NBA: Damian Lillard leads three-pointer, Bucks beat Hornets

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard shoots between Charlotte Hornets guard Ish Smith (left) and center Nick Richards during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 17, 2023, Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Damian Lillard scored 27 points, Malik Beasley added 20 and the Milwaukee Bucks overcame a 37-point effort by LaMelo Ball to beat the Charlotte Hornets 130-99 on Friday night and remain undefeated in the NBA midseason tournament.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 16 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Bucks, who won three straight games. Beasley had six 3-pointers and Lillard five as the Bucks shot 22 of 45 from beyond the arc to outshoot the Hornets 38-18 in the fourth quarter.

Milwaukee’s victory sets up a key showdown on Nov. 28 in Miami against the Heat, the only undefeated team in Group B’s Eastern Group, which could decide whether they advance to the single-elimination playoffs.

Both teams have a 2-0 record in tournament play.

Charlotte’s Miles Bridges looked good in his first NBA appearance in 583 days, scoring 17 points on 6 of 13 shots in 33 minutes. Bridges missed all of last season and served a 10-game suspension earlier this year for his involvement in a 2022 domestic violence incident.

Bridges received an ovation when he entered the game in the first quarter and an even louder cheer when he sank his first pull-up jumper, helping the Hornets build a 13-point lead in the first half.

However, the Bucks were able to take a two-point lead into the halftime locker room and began to pull away in the third quarter after a powerful one-handed dunk by Lillard and a corner 3-pointer by Beasley off a pass from Antetokounmpo. A few minutes later, Lillard hit a 3 and Pat Connaughton made a 3 from the corner to give the lead to 14.

The Hornets cut the lead to six early in the fourth quarter on a single by Bridges, but the Bucks got going right away and gradually built a 33-point lead after a burst of 3s.

Ball was on the cusp of reaching his career high.

He wore a blue bandage to cover the “LF” tattoo just below his left ear.

The tattoo violates NBA rules prohibiting the display of commercial logos on players’ bodies. The initials “LF” stand for LaFrance, which is the middle name of the quarterback and his new clothing brand.

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Bucks: The Dallas Mavericks will host on Saturday night.

Hornets: Host the New York Knicks on Saturday night in a five-game homestand.


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