MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — De’Anthony Melton had 24 points, Desmond Bane added 20 and the Memphis Grizzlies continued to win in the absence of scoring leader Ja Morant, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 127-102 on Saturday night.
Dillon Brooks scored 19 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 16 and two blocks to help Memphis win its fourth straight and eighth in the last nine games. Melton was 8 of 11 from the field, going 6 of 9 from 3-point range.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 30 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, scoring 18 points in the third quarter when Milwaukee tried to make a run. Khris Middleton added 16 points. The defending champion Bucks lost for only the third time in the last 13 games.
Milwaukee dropped into a tie for third with Boston in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind Philadelphia and Miami. Antetokounmpo was listed as questionable before the game with a sore right knee, but after going through pregame warmups was deemed ready to play.
The Bucks had trouble connecting on their first-half shots and were under 30% overall near the midway point of the second quarter. Antetokounmpo was 3 of 11 in the first half, part of Milwaukee’s 32% shooting. Antetokounmpo came out with much more aggression in the second half making his way to the basket and helping Milwaukee chip into the Memphis lead. But near the three-minute mark, Melton connected on a trio of 3-pointer to take the Grizzlies lead to 22.
Memphis led 98-79 entering the fourth.
Jrue Holiday, who has led the team in scoring the last two games and was averaging 23 points in the last five, sat out with left ankle soreness as well.
Khris Middleton had a milestone in the game passed Vin Baker for 11th place on the Bucks’ career rebounding list. Baker had 3,080.
The Bucks schedule doesn’t get any easier as they travel to Philadelphia Tuesday night.