Bucks down Sixers, with Simmons out again

·2-min read

Ben Simmons sat out a third NBA game in a row as the Milwaukee Bucks used a fast start to snap a five-game losing streak at home against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.

The Bucks never trailed and led by as many as 21 points in their 124-117 victory in a match-up of two of the eastern conference's top contenders.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 27 points, Khris Middleton had 24 while Bobby Portis added a season-high 23 for the Bucks, who defeated the Sixers for the fourth consecutive time - and second this campaign.

"We were moving the ball, knocking down shots. From the start, everybody was locked in," Antetokounmpo said.

Joel Embiid scored 24 points for the Sixers and Shake Milton had 20 off the bench.

"We were soft tonight," Sixers coach Doc Rivers said.

"We didn't put up much resistance."

The Sixers got closer to full strength with the return of two starters, Tobias Harris and Seth Curry, but Simmons, one of the league's top defenders, missed out again due to an unspecified illness.

Rivers said he's unsure of Simmons' status for their next game, at home to the Bucks on Saturday.

"Right now, I'd say it's 50-50, at best," he said.

"I think playing teams like this, back to back, it's awesome because it prepares you for the playoffs," Antetokounmpo said.

The Bucks improve to 36-22 to consolidate the third seed in the east while the Sixers, playing for the fifth time in eight days, are 39-20 and sit tied with the Brooklyn Nets at the head of the conference.

Luka Doncic scored 30 points in the Dallas Mavericks' 115-110 defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers, spoiling the return of Anthony Davis from a 30-game injury absence - the longest of his career.

Davis was rusty in his first game since February 14 because of right calf and heel issues, scoring four points on 2-of-10 shooting while limited to 17 minutes in the first half only.

Meanwhile, Kemba Walker matched his season high with 32 points to lead the Boston Celtics to a 99-86 victory over the high-flying Phoenix Suns.

Boston have won nine of their past 11 while the Suns (42-17) drop two games behind the idle Utah Jazz for the best record in the west and the NBA.