NBA-best Bucks beat Bulls without Antetokounmpo

Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton (24) shoots the ball as Chicago Bulls centre Robin Lopez (42) defends during the second half at United Centre. Mandatory credit: David Banks, USA TODAY Sports (Reuters pic)

CHICAGO: Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton scored 22 points apiece, and the Milwaukee Bucks cruised to a 117-106 win over the host Chicago Bulls on Monday night.

Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic added 13 points apiece for the Bucks, who won their fifth game in a row. Milwaukee shot 46.2% (42 of 91) from the field and knocked down 17 shots from beyond the arc.

Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez each had 26 points in a losing effort for the Bulls. Chicago’s three-game win streak came to an end as the Bucks completed a four-game sweep in the regular-season series.

Milwaukee led comfortably for most of the second half and rested its starters in the final few minutes. The Bucks boosted their record to an NBA-best 46-14 on the season.

The Bucks entered the fourth quarter with a 90-80 advantage. Tony Snell provided a lift for Milwaukee on both ends of the court in the third quarter as he blocked a shot by Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and made a layup in the final seconds.

Milwaukee built a 63-54 lead at the half. Middleton, who led the Bucks with 16 points before the break, hit a 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds left to cap the scoring.

The Bulls led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter but were outscored 38-16 in the second quarter. Markkanen led all scorers with 20 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer from the left wing and another from the top of the key.

Milwaukee played without All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sat out because of soreness in his right knee. Sterling Brown (right wrist soreness) and George Hill (left groin strain) also did not play.

The injury-riddled Bucks signed Isaiah Canaan to a 10-day contract a few hours before the opening tip to provide depth. The 27-year-old journeyman knocked down his first 3-point attempt and finished with six points in 12 minutes.

Chicago also was shorthanded as Otto Porter Jr. (left leg strain) and Kris Dunn (migraines) were ruled out. In their place, Ryan Arcidiacono and Luwawu-Cabarrot joined the starting lineup.