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NBA: Khris Middleton leads Giannis-less Milwaukee Bucks against Minnesota Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Khris Middleton had 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in three quarters, as the Milwaukee Bucks breezed to a 130-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

Brook Lopez added 18 points and eight rebounds, Jrue Holiday pitched in 15 points and three steals, and the Bucks built a lead as big as 30 points early in the fourth quarter on the way to their second consecutive blowout. After losing six of nine games, the Bucks beat Orlando 124-87 on Sunday.

“It was a great effort all around, from everybody who stepped on the court,” Middleton said. “Just trying to play the right way, compete, defend.”

The Bucks played without the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player award winner, Giannis Antetokoumpo, because of left knee soreness for the sixth straight game. They’re 3-3 without him in this stretch.

Milwaukee, which is in control of the No. 3 seed for the playoffs, entered the evening with a three-game deficit behind Brooklyn and Philadelphia. The conference co-leaders were set to play on Wednesday night.

Anthony Edwards scored 24 points on 5-for-11 shooting from 3-point range for the Timberwolves, who have lost 11 of their past 15 games.

The Bucks scored 45 points in the third quarter, their second-highest period of the season that allowed coach Mike Budenholzer to rest Middleton, Holiday and Lopez for the final period with a back-to-back game looming against Atlanta.

Middleton, who had shooting performances of 4 for 16 and 6 for 27 on a road trip earlier this month, again showed his ability to shrug off a mini-slump. He’s 17 for 28 over the past two games.

“He has that confidence, and that’s why he’s the player he is,” Lopez said.

Middleton had 13 points in the third quarter alone.

“I loved that he kept finding ways to get opportunities,” Budenholzer said, adding: “The off nights are the blips. Those are the outliers.”

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