MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 131-114 on Saturday night for their NBA-best 50th victory.
Brook Lopez added 25 points and eight rebounds as the Bucks used a second-half surge to knock out the Hornets. It’s just the second 50-win season in the past 30 years for Milwaukee (50-16), which went 52-30 during the 2000-01 season and reached the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bucks went 17 for 44 from 3-point range and placed six players in double figures. Malcolm Brogdon and reserve Nikola Mirotic each scored 18 points, and Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Bledsoe had 11 points apiece.
Kemba Walker paced Charlotte (30-36) with 25 points, and reserve Frank Kaminsky had 16.
Charlotte, which has bothered Milwaukee with its switching defense this season, opened a 14-point lead in the second quarter before the Bucks closed to 59-55 at halftime.
DiVincenzo, playing just his second game since returning from a heel injury that had sidelined him since Jan. 1, contributed six points and two rebounds while showing crowd-pleasing hustle in seven first-half minutes.
The Bucks allowed Charlotte to shoot 51.1% from the field (24 of 47) in the first half and managed just 40.4% shooting (19 of 47).
Milwaukee responded with a 39-point outburst in the third quarter to grab a 94-87 lead. Lopez had 18 points in the period on 5-for-6 shooting. His only miss came on a 3-point attempt.
Antetokounmpo scored the first 10 Bucks points in the fourth quarter — including back-to-back 3-pointers — and Milwaukee pulled away to beat Charlotte for the third time in four meetings this season.
Hornets: Kaminsky, the former University of Wisconsin star, was out of Charlotte’s rotation the last time the Hornets were in Milwaukee in late January, but the 7-foot forward has made an impact lately. Kaminsky scored a season-high 20 points in a loss to Miami on Wednesday. “We needed some scoring punch off our bench,” coach James Borrego said. “Frank has given us that, stretching the floor, driving the ball. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.” ... F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (left knee strain) and PG Tony Parker (rest) were not available, but C Bismack Biyombo returned after sitting out Charlotte’s 112-111 win over Washington on Friday night. Charlotte started the night one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, in a three-way battle with Miami and Orlando. “We understand every game feels like a must-win for us,” Borrego said. “We’ve been in the top eight in the conference 93 percent of the season. There’s a will to survive and win, and I think we have that.”
Bucks: G George Hill (left groin strain) missed his seventh consecutive game but could return at some point on the Bucks’ three-game road swing that opens Monday in San Antonio, according to coach Mike Budenholzer. ... G Sterling Brown (right wrist soreness) has resumed shooting on a limited basis. He also has missed the last seven games. ... Veteran C Pau Gasol will continue his adjustment to the Bucks after being signed last weekend. The two-time NBA champion and six-time All-Star was released by San Antonio in time to be eligible for the postseason with Milwaukee. “It’s a wide variety of experiences that he brings,” Budenholzer said. “His international play, the things he has done with Spain. I think Giannis has an immense respect for him. To have guys like that in the locker room that can speak up or can say something in a timeout that’s beneficial, all those things add up.”
Hornets: At Houston on Monday night.
Bucks: At San Antonio on Sunday night.