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Damian Lillard drops 41 points, leads Bucks rallying past Clippers even without Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo missed Monday night’s game due to left Achilles tendinitis, which marked just his third absence of the season

Damian Lillard more than filled in Monday night in Milwaukee.

Lillard dropped 41 points and helped lead the Bucks out of a 15-point hole in the second half to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers 113-106 at Fiserv Forum without Giannis Antetokounmpo. It marked the Bucks’ sixth straight win coming out of the All-Star break, and yet another solid performance under new head coach Doc Rivers.

Antetokounmpo was ruled out of the game shortly before tipoff with left Achilles tendinitis, something Rivers said had been an issue for the star over the last few games. He took the court for his normal pre-game routine, but eventually cut it short and left. Antetokounmpo — who has averaged 30.8 points and is shooting a career-high 61.9% from the field — has missed just three games this season.

“It’s been on and off the last two or three games,” Rivers said before the win, via ESPN. “This morning he actually looked good … We’ll just figure it out from there.”

The Clippers seemed to take full advantage of his absence early, too. They took a seven-point lead at halftime, and pushed that to 15 points quickly in the third quarter.

Yet it was a 10-0 run at the end of the third period that extended into the fourth quarter that finally brought the Bucks back in it. Then, after a Paul George 3-pointer just after the midway point of the fourth quarter, the Bucks did it again. They flew ahead on a 15-0 tear, which was sparked by a Lillard step-back 3-pointer, to suddenly take full control of the game. The Bucks held the Clippers to just three field goals the rest of the way — two of which came in garbage time that were way too late to make a difference — to grab the seven-point win.

Damian Lillard and the Bucks have now won six straight games coming out of the All-Star break.
Damian Lillard and the Bucks have now won six straight games coming out of the All-Star break. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) (Patrick McDermott via Getty Images)

Lillard finished with 41 points, four rebounds and four assists in the win while shooting 12-of-22 from the field. Bobby Portis came off the bench and added 28 points and 16 rebounds, and Patrick Beverley finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. They were the only three Bucks players to hit double figures.

James Harden finished with 29 points and eight assists to lead the Clippers. Paul George added 29 points and five rebounds while shooting 10-of-17 from the field, and Kawhi Leonard finished with 16 points. The Clippers were without veteran guard Russell Westbrook, who broke his hand Friday and underwent hand surgery Monday. The team is hopeful he’ll be able to rejoin them in time for the playoffs. The Clippers hold a 39-21 record, which has them in fourth in the Western Conference standings.

As for the Bucks, they seem to finally be succeeding under Rivers — who replaced coach Adrian Griffin just before the All-Star break. They’ve won six straight and sit in second in the Eastern Conference standings at 41-21 on the year, though they’re still eight full games behind the Boston Celtics. The Bucks will head out on a four-game California road trip starting Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors.

Though it's unclear how long Antetokounmpo will be sidelined, if at all, the Bucks seem more than capable of holding their own with or without him coming into the final stretch of the season. Whether that will be enough to catch the Celtics, however, remains to be seen.