The Milwaukee Bucks, runners-up of the Eastern Group, defeated the sixth-ranked New Orleans Pelicans in the Western Group, with a score of (110/135) in the NBA.
Antetokounmpo’s 50 points were five off the career high he set Jan. 4 in a 123-113 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Jrue Holiday scored 17 and Brook Lopez added 15 for the Bucks, who shot 55.2%.
New Orleans never led and lost its eighth straight. The Pelicans were playing for the second consecutive night – they lost 113-103 at home to the Wizards on Saturday – and were missing their top three scorers.
Zion Williamson hasn’t played since Jan. 2 due to a strained right hamstring. Brandon Ingram (toe injury on left foot) and CJ McCollum (sprained right thumb) also were out Sunday.
Jose Alvarado stepped up to lead the Pelicans with 18 points, while Trey Murphy III and Jonas Valanciunas had 16 each.
“I thought our effort was there,” Pelicans coach Willie Green. “I thought we fought. It just wasn’t enough tonight.”
Even at full strength, the Pelicans would have struggled to slow down Antetokounmpo on a night when he seemingly couldn’t miss.
This marked the 10th time this season that Antetokounmpo has scored at least 40 points, matching the career high he set last year for 40-point games in a single season.
“He made it look easy all night long,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “He’s playing efficient. He’s playing dominant. He’s playing unstoppable. He’s playing like the MVP again. We need that from him every night, and he knows that.”
Antetokounmpo already had 16 points midway through the first quarter. He went 8 of 9 for 18 points in that opening period, nearly matching New Orleans’ scoring total while helping the Bucks build a 37-19 advantage.
He finished the night as well as he started it.
Antetokounmpo scored 12 straight Bucks points during a stretch that began with less than four minutes left in the game. Antetokounmpo capped that spurt by making consecutive 3-pointers, the last of which put him at the 50-point mark with 1:38 remaining.
“It’s one of those moments you can never take for granted because you never know if you’re going to have that moment again,” Antetokounmpo said.
The Milwaukee Bucks will meet the day after tomorrow (Wednesday) with the 14th-ranked Charlotte Hornets in the Eastern Group.
In the rest of the matches, the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Indiana Pacers (112/100), and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Los Angeles Clippers (122/99).