‘Freak of nature’: Antetokounmpo scores 35 as Bucks end Kings’ three-game winning streak

Morry Gash/AP

The Kings overcame multiple double-digit deficits to get within one in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t overcome the size, strength and physicality of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 points, five rebounds and seven assists to lead the Bucks to a 126-113 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum, snapping Sacramento’s three-game winning streak.

Jrue Holiday added 31 points, four rebounds and five assists for the Bucks (18-6), who have won three in a row and six of their last seven.

Domantas Sabonis had 23 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists for the Kings (13-10), who will visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in the second game of a six-game road trip.

Harrison Barnes scored 20 points for Sacramento. Malik Monk came off the bench to post 16 points and six rebounds. De’Aaron Fox was held to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Kings coach Mike Brown knew Milwaukee’s size and physicality could pose a problem for his team before the game.

“I told our group, I said, ‘Hey, these guys are going to bring a physicality to the game tonight,’ and I didn’t say starting with Giannis. I said starting with Jrue Holiday,” Brown said. “His physicality as the head of the snake is what everybody feeds off of. Everybody sees what Giannis does because, at that size, he’s a freak of nature, I guess that’s his nickname, and so it’s unusual, but Jrue kind of gets overlooked.”

The Kings jumped out to a 10-2 lead over the first two minutes, but the Bucks closed out the first quarter with an 11-4 run to go up 34-29. Milwaukee went up 51-42 on a basket by Holiday midway through the second period. The Kings cut the deficit to two late in the first half, but the Bucks carried a 68-61 advantage into the break.

Monk, Barnes and Sabonis were all in double figures at that point, but Fox was held to six points on 2-of-7 shooting in the opening half. That continued a recent trend for Fox, who made just 34 of 86 (.395) from the field and 9 of 29 (.310) from 3-point range over the previous six games.

Milwaukee extended its lead to double digits early in the third quarter and went up by 12 on a 3-pointer by Antetokounmpo. The Kings closed the gap following a 3-pointer by Huerter and a three-point play by Fox, who came up limping after getting fouled by Antetokounmpo. The Kings got within three on a 3-pointer by Murray late in the third quarter and trailed 97-94 after Fox made a driving layup with 1.1 seconds remaining.

Sacramento cut the deficit to one on a basket by Davion Mitchell early in the fourth quarter, but that’s when Milwaukee began to take control. Middleton and Grayson Allen hit 3-pointers to spark a 14-4 run that put the Bucks up 117-105 with 4:40 to play.

“What’s disappointing for me is this is one of the first times I felt we played a game and our opponent dictated from the beginning of the game how the night was going to go,” Brown said. “I didn’t think they felt us at all defensively. It was almost like our defense was like a glorified scrimmage game or a pickup game. Milwaukee went where they wanted to go. They did what they wanted to do offensively.”