NBA

Giannis leaves in first quarter of Bucks win after clash of knees

By Sports Desk February 25, 2023

The Milwaukee Bucks are waiting for an update on Giannis Antetokounmpo after their two-time MVP was forced to leave Friday's game early after a clash of knees.

Antetokounmpo played just six minutes before he signalled to the bench to take him out, but the Bucks did not miss a beat as they blew out the Miami Heat 128-99.

All-Star Jrue Holiday picked up the slack with a team-high 24 points on nine-of-14 shooting, adding seven assists and five rebounds, while Bobby Portis chipped in 18 points (seven-of-11 shooting) and 11 rebounds off the bench.

For the Heat, Kevin Love was given a spot in the starting line-up after being bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he finished with eight rebounds, four assists and zero points, missing all four of his three-point attempts.

Touching on the status of his star player after the win, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said he is still not sure of the severity.

"I haven’t gotten the full breakdown, but I’m pretty sure either on a drive or on a screen or something like that, he knocked knees with somebody and just wasn’t able to return," he said.

Antetokounmpo was only able to make a ceremonial start in the All-Star Game as he used the break to recover from a wrist injury, and Holiday said he would like to see the franchise exercise some caution with him, given their strong position.

"Sometimes you have to stop him from himself," he said. "Being able to calm down and maybe even not play a couple of games, knowing that we're the number two [seed], knowing that we're all right.

"I know he doesn't like it. He tries to play every single game, which I completely understand. I feel like I'm the same way."

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra agreed that the Bucks can survive without Antetokounmpo if necessary.

"It didn't slow them down one bit when Giannis went out," he said. "They just put it in overdrive."

The win improves the Bucks' record to 42-17, just one game behind the league-leading Boston Celtics (43-17), while the Heat sit seventh in the East at 32-28.

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