Giannis Antetokounmpo had his third triple-double in his last four games and the Milwaukee Bucks responded to the firing of coach Adrian Griffin with a 126-116 victory Wednesday night that snapped the Cleveland Cavaliers’ eight-game winning streak.
Antetokounmpo had 35 points, matched a season high with 18 rebounds and had 10 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season. Antetokounmpo is one assist shy of having four straight triple-doubles after having 31 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists Saturday in a 141-135 triumph at Detroit.
Griffin was fired Tuesday despite being 30-13 in his lone season as coach. Joe Prunty, an assistant on Griffin’s staff, served as interim head coach Wednesday while the Bucks were finalizing negotiations with Doc Rivers to eventually take over.
Milwaukee has the Eastern Conference’s second-best record, but the Bucks weren’t playing defense nearly as well as they had under predecessor Mike Budenholzer.
The Bucks’ last loss in Griffin’s 43-game tenure was a 135-95 blowout – their most lopsided defeat of the season – at Cleveland a week ago while Antetokounmpo was out with a bruised right shoulder.
Milwaukee looked much better Wednesday while cooling the NBA’s hottest team.
Cleveland had trailed for just 35 seconds over its last five games and had three straight wire-to-wire victories, but the Cavaliers never led in this one.
The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 21 in the third quarter and were still behind 103-87 with nine minutes left before cutting the margin to six with 3:44 remaining. Antetokounmpo answered with a dunk to start a 6-1 run that gave the Bucks more breathing room.
Damian Lillard scored 28 points and Khris Middleton added 24 for the Bucks.
Donovan Mitchell had 23 points and Jarrett Allen added 21 points and 12 assists for the Cavs. Georges Niang and Max Strus scored 14 points each, Sam Merrill 12 and Isaac Okoro 10.
This marks Prunty’s third stint as an NBA interim coach.
Prunty went 21-16 with Milwaukee in 2017-18 and also coached the Bucks during their first-round, seven-game playoff loss to the Boston Celtics after the midseason firing of Jason Kidd. He was 2-0 with Atlanta last season after the Hawks fired Nate McMillan and before they hired Quin Snyder.
Cleveland was playing for the first time since backup center Tristan Thompson received a 25-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy by testing positive for ibutamoren and SARM LGD-4033.
The Cavaliers and Bucks meet again Friday, Jan. 26, in Milwaukee at 8:00 p.m.