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LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo led a night of upsets in the NBA on Tuesday with 34 points as the Milwaukee Bucks stunned LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, 118-101.
Antetokounmpo, 21, also grabbed 12 rebounds and contributed five assists as a Cavs side featuring both James and Kyrie Irving failed to fire.
Greek international Antetokounmpo was ably supported by Jabari Parker (18 points) and Michael Beasley (17) as the Bucks scored a win which improves their season to 8-8.
The Cavs loss saw the champions fall to 13-3 for the season. James finished with 22 points to lead the scoring for the Cavs, ahead of Irving with 20 points at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
But the star of the night was Antetokounmpo, who became one of the highest paid players in the NBA earlier this year when he inked a $100 million four-year deal worth around $25 million a season.
Last season the giant forward averaged 16.9 points, 7.7 rebounds. 4.3 assists and 1.4 blocks in 80 games. So far this season Antetokounmpo is averaging 22 points per game, suggesting the Bucks were wise to invest in the 6ft 11in son of Nigerian immigrants who was born in Athens in 1994.
“We were moving the ball and we didn’t stop moving the ball,’’ Antetokounmpo said. “Our pace was great, we rebounded the ball well and we moved the ball in the offensive end.’’
James said the Cavs have been caught napping.
“We let our guard down a little bit,’’ James said. “They pushed up the tempo and we didn’t get stops. I came out of the game when we were up 10 and we let them go on a quick run to end the quarter. From that point on they got into a rhythm and they’re a rhythm team.’’
The Bucks’ upset win was the biggest shock of the day as various in-form teams ended up losing to unheralded opposition.
San Antonio’s nine-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt when the Western Conference giants crashed to a 95-83 defeat against the Orlando Magic.
The Los Angeles Clippers, meantime, fell to 14-5 against the Brooklyn Nets in New York, with the underdogs improving their record to 5-12 after a wild 127-122 win in double overtime.