LeBron James has downplayed the severity of the hand injury that forced him out of the second half of Sunday's All-Star Game in Salt Lake City.

James' Team LeBron lost 184-175 to Team Giannis, with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar ruled out at half-time after playing 14 minutes where he scored 13 points with four assists.

The four-time NBA MVP appeared to injure his right hand which was caught in the rim attempting to block Pascal Siakam's lay-up attempt in the second quarter.

"Coach [Michael] Malone is a defensive minded coach," James told reporters. "I had him in my early days at Cleveland. I told him I'd get one stop for him and I tried one little chase-down block and got my finger caught in the rim.

"But I'll be fine, I'll be fine. I don’t think it's too much to worry about but for precautionary reasons I had to just take the rest of the night off."

James' availability will be critical to the Lakers' hopes of a run into the playoffs, currently sitting 13th in the Western Conference with a 27-32 record.

The 38-year-old, who missed three games last week due to an ankle injury, is averaging 30.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists for the Lakers this season.

The Lakers return to action after the All-Star break on Thursday against the reigning champions, Golden State Warriors who are ninth in the west at 29-29.

Team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo both exited the All-Star Game in Utah on Sunday due to injuries.

Los Angeles Lakers forward James appeared to hurt his hand by hitting it on the rim during a dunk with 6:08 remaining in the second quarter and was ruled out for the second half.

James finished the game with 13 points on 54.5 per cent field goal shooting with four assists in 14 minutes.

The four-time NBA MVP's exit meant both Team LeBron and Team Giannis would be without their captains for the second half.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo withdrew from the All-Star Game early with a pre-existing wrist injury, scoring two points before stepping out inside a minute.

James, who missed three games last week due to an ankle injury, is averaging 30.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists for the Lakers this season.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 31.8 points, 12.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists for the Bucks, who are second in the Eastern Conference with a 41-17 record.

Giannis Antetokounmpo will be assessed ahead of the All-Star Game after suffering a wrist injury during the Milwaukee Bucks' win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.

The two-time NBA MVP grimaced as he left the court during the second quarter of a 112-100 victory.

Antetokounmpo had broken the record for the most assists by a Bucks player, moving beyond Paul Pressey's tally to 3,274.

The Greek forward is due to play in the All-Star Game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Sunday, but it remains to be seen if he will be fit.

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said he had "no idea" if Antetokounmpo will play this weekend, but an X-ray was "clean" and initial reports were "hopeful".

He added: "We'll just see how he feels tomorrow, see how he feels the next few days and continue to evaluate it."

Budenholzer continued: "He's a guy that's attacking the basket all the time. He's fearless. He takes a lot of falls, so you kind of learn to just expect him to always just bounce back up, and that’s what we're hoping for from this one."

Brook Lopez scored a season-high 33 points and Jevon Carter poured in 22 as Milwaukee reeled off a 12th successive win to improve to 41-17, sitting second in the Eastern Conference.

Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards recovered from a horrific start to storm back and defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-106 away from home on Thursday.

The Wizards trailed 30-10 in the first quarter, and after trimming the margin to eight points at half-time, the Timberwolves again extended their lead to 87-69 with two minutes remaining in the third period.

Washington put together a 17-2 run over the next four-and-a-half minutes, bringing themselves right back into the contest, and they would end up winning the final period 38-19.

Beal had 15 of his game-high 35 points in the final 5:14, finishing with shooting figures of 14-of-28 from the field and four-of-eight from deep, while adding six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

No other Wizard scored more than 16 points, while Timberwolves young gun Anthony Edwards went toe-to-toe with Beal.

Edwards scored a team-high 34 points on 11-of-26 shooting with three steals, although his six turnovers hurt. Rudy Gobert was also solid for Minnesota, grabbing 19 rebounds to go with his 17 points and three blocks.

The win is the Wizards' fourth from their past five outings, improving to 28-30 to have them sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference, while the Timberwolves dropped to eighth in the West at 31-30.

Clippers leapfrog the Suns into top-four

The Los Angeles Clippers won an enticing Western Conference showdown against the Phoenix Suns 116-107 despite a rough shooting performance from star Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard, who has been boasting blistering shooting splits of 51/45/92 since the beginning of the new year, finished just five-of-18 from the field on the road against the Suns for 16 points, although he salvaged a decent outing with 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal.

Paul George picked up the slack with 26 points (nine-of-19 shooting), six rebounds and five assists, while Terance Mann matched him with 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting.

With the win, the Clippers (33-28) moved up to fourth in the West, taking the place of the Suns (32-28).

No Giannis, no worries for Lopez and the Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks lost their two-time MVP after suffering a game-ending wrist injury, but Brook Lopez did his best Giannis Antetokounmpo impression during a 112-100 road win against the Chicago Bulls.

Antetokounmpo played only nine minutes, scoring two points before crashing into the basket support while attempting a chasedown block, but Lopez responded with a season-high 33 points (13-of-18 shooting), seven rebounds and four blocks.

Jevon Carter also impressed with 22 points (nine-of-13 shooting), six rebounds and six assists, while undrafted rookie A.J. Green hit five three-pointers off the bench.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out of the Milwaukee Bucks' clash with the Chicago Bulls on Thursday in the second quarter after suffering a wrist injury.

The injury occurred as Antetokounmpo raced back and attempted to block a fast-break lay-up, crashing into the stanchion underneath the ring hands-first.

He immediately began feeling for his wrist, and after exiting the game and heading back to the locker room, the Bucks confirmed he would not return.

Antetokounmpo finished with two points, seven rebounds and three assists, and was plus nine in his nine minutes.

The 40-17 Bucks came into the game with the league's second-best record, trailing only the Boston Celtics (42-17).

The resurgent Phoenix Suns made it 11 wins from their past 14 games with a 120-109 home victory against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

Phoenix, who earlier this season endured a 2-12 run across a 14-game stretch, are now right back in the mix in the Western Conference, buoyed by the impending debut of trade deadline acquisition Kevin Durant.

Against the Kings, the Suns' main three players all performed at an exceptionally high level.

Point guard Chris Paul dished a season-high 19 assists – the second most by any player this season, trailing only James Harden's 21 against the Los Angeles Clippers in December – to go with 17 points on seven-of-15 shooting.

Offensive focal point Devin Booker led the Suns with 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting, and center Deandre Ayton dominated with 29 points (13-of-17 shooting), 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks.

Both Kings All-Stars delivered, as De'Aaron Fox led the visitors in scoring with a game-high 35 points on 12-of-22 shooting, while Domantas Sabonis had 24 points (seven-of-12), 15 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

With the win, the Suns improved their record to 32-27 and moved up to the fourth seed in the Western Conference, one game behind the third-placed Kings (32-25).

Bucks extend winning streak to 11 against undermanned Celtics

The Milwaukee Bucks were pushed all the way by a Boston Celtics team missing four starters, ultimately coming away with a 131-125 overtime win at home.

With Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford all out, Derrick White had 27 points (10-of-24), 12 assists and three steals, while Malcolm Brogdon added 26 points (eight-of-17) off the bench in a valiant effort.

But the heroics from the Bucks' All-Star duo pulled them across the line, with 40 points (13-of-21), seven assists and three steals for Jrue Holiday, while Giannis Antetokounmpo racked up 36 points (12-of-26), 13 rebounds and nine assists.

The Bucks (40-17) are now just a half-game behind the Celtics (41-17) in the race for the league's best record.

Blazers waste another explosive Lillard performance

Nobody is averaging more points than Damian Lillard over their past 10 games, and he had another 39 in a 126-101 home loss to the Washington Wizards.

Lillard, who came into the contest averaging 38.2 in his past 10, shot 14-of-30 from the field while adding 10 rebounds and six assists.

But the Wizards were too good, led by their leading scorer this season, Kristaps Porzingis, with 28 points (10-of-15), 12 rebounds and five assists, while Kyle Kuzma bombed away for 33 points (11-of-20) and nine rebounds.

Giannis Antetokounmpo sent an injury scare through the Milwaukee Bucks camp late in Tuesday's 131-125 overtime win over the Boston Celtics, but the initial report was positive according to head coach Mike Budenholzer.

Antetokounmpo went down awkwardly on landing following an unsuccessful drive to the basket in the fourth quarter and remained on the floor, before slowly getting to his feet and walking to the bench.

The Greek forward never left the game and played out the OT win, finishing with 36 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and two blocks as the Bucks claimed their 11th straight victory.

"They gave me a quick update just saying that they think he just banged knees with somebody," Budenholzer said.

"We'll check him in the morning, but I'd say the initial kind of report was positive."

Antetokounmpo's return was his 24th 30/10 game of the season, which is the most in the NBA. He was well supported by Jrue Holiday with a joint career-high 40 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the field with eight-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Holiday's eight three-pointers was also a new career high, coming after his selection in the upcoming All-Star Game for the first time since 2013, marking the longest gap between All-Star appearances in NBA history.

"I don't really care for how I'm playing as long as we're winning," Holiday said. "For me, as long as we get the win, I'm OK.

"The only stat I look at is turnovers. That's kind of how I determine if I had a good or bad game. Tonight, what did I have, five turnovers? To me, that hurts my soul."

The win was not only the Bucks' 11th straight, but also saw them down their main Eastern Conference rivals for the top seed. The Bucks improved to a 40-17 record, narrowing the gap to the Celtics (41-17).

However, Boston were missing several key players, including Jayson Tatum (rest) and Jaylen Brown (facial fracture).

Celtics forward Sam Hauser had sent the clash to overtime with a game-tying three-pointer with 3.0 seconds remaining when Khris Middleton opted not to foul.

"We do different things at the end of the game," Budenholzer said. "The catch-and-shoot coming out of that is probably what they're looking for. We defended everything well, defended all the screens prior.

"He gets it out at half-court and hits a 30-footer. There's different things that we'll do. Credit to Hauser for making the shot. Khris did exactly what we asked him to do. Just fortunate to find a way to win it in overtime."

The Boston Celtics will head into Tuesday's road game against the Milwaukee Bucks without four starters after Jayson Tatum and Al Horford were ruled out in the hours before tip-off.

Tatum and Horford are the latest additions to a star-studded injury list for the Celtics, who were already without All-Star Jaylen Brown due to a facial fracture, while reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart is recovering from an ankle injury.

Horford is officially listed out due to right knee swelling, while Tatum has also been given the game off for Wednesday's game against the Detroit Pistons as the Celtics give their leader in starts and minutes this season some extended rest leading into the All-Star Weekend.

The Bucks will be close to full strength after it was confirmed Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton – who were initially marked down as questionable – were cleared to play. They will only be missing sixth man Bobby Portis and new trade acquisition Jae Crowder.

With a win, the Bucks can trim Boston's lead as the best record in the Eastern Conference, and in the league, to a half-game.

The Boston Celtics will hit the road on Tuesday to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview.

In a tantalising battle between the top two teams in the East, it will also be a clash between two of the NBA's top-four defenses this season.

The Celtics will head into the contest boasting the rare statistical profile of the fourth-best defense (conceding 110.5 points per 100 possessions) and the third-best offense (116.8 points per 100 possessions). 

Meanwhile, the Bucks have relied primarily on their second-ranked defense (109.7), grinding out wins despite their offense ranking only 21st (112.6).

While their offensive production has differed, the way these two sides approach the game is very similar. They are two of the most perimeter-centric offenses in the league, both top-five in average three-point attempts, while both also sit bottom-five in average points in the paint.

It makes sense that, because both of these teams so heavily value the three-point shot, they also make just as much of an effort to disrupt that area for their opponents. They are both top-six in limiting opponent three-point makes, presenting an interesting conundrum.

Two teams who want to bomb away from deep, who also know exactly how to run their opposition off the three-point line, forcing them to take a step inside and attempt less valuable two-point jump shots, or daring them to finish at the basket against elite rim protectors.

They are also the best two teams in the league at limiting opposition free throw attempts, meaning that even when they force opponents inside into traffic, they are challenging without fouling.

But the wrench in that equation is Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo, who lives in the paint, contributes nearly half (19.0) of his side's 45.4 points in the paint per game, and leads the league in free throw attempts (13.8 per game).

It puts the opposition in a quandary – do you follow the scouting report and try to limit the Bucks' three-point shooting, potentially giving Antetokounmpo the free rein to dominate inside, or do you go all-in on stopping the former back-to-back MVP and force somebody else to hit shots?

That is not to say the Celtics' stars are incapable of getting into the paint – with both Jaylen Brown (11.7 paint points per game) and Jayson Tatum (11.5) in the top-20 in the league – but Brown is the primary slasher of the pair, and will miss this game with a broken bone in his face.

Brown will be joined on the sideline by reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, meaning Tatum will not just be the Celtics' most important offensive player, he will also be their top perimeter defender.

The Celtics are struggling in the health department right now, while the Bucks are trending in the right direction. Both Milwaukee All-Stars – Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday – will play, and All-NBA wing Khris Middleton has games of 22 points and 24 points in his past three after recovering from his own serious injury.

PIVOTAL PERFORMERS

Boston Celtics – Robert Williams III

Smart will be missed, but there is arguably not a more valuable defender to the Celtics than Robert Williams III – especially against an interior force like Antetokounmpo.

The 25-year-old came from out of nowhere to force his way onto the NBA All-Defensive Second Team last season, finishing fourth in the league for blocks per game (2.2). That block figure has come back down to earth this season – still a team-leading 1.2 per game – but, simply put, the Celtics are a force defensively with him on the court. 

During his minutes, the Celtics concede only 104.8 points per 100 possessions – the fourth-best figure for any player averaging at least 20 minutes per game – which is over five points better than the league's best defense this season (Cleveland Cavaliers, 108.9).

The Milwaukee Bucks made it 10 wins on the bounce as they beat the Los Angeles Clippers 119-106, though Jrue Holiday had to be reminded of the fact.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was again the star of the show at the Crypto.com Arena, scoring 35 points along with eight rebounds and six assists, while Brook Lopez recorded 15 rebounds to go with his 22 points.

Antetokounmpo has scored 373 points during the successful 10-game period, the second-most points during a 10-0 stretch in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain, who had 416 as a rookie in 1959-60.

Asked after the win about the growing number of influential overseas players in the NBA, the Greek was glowing in his praise for his fellow international stars.

"It's been incredible," he told reporters. "It doesn't really matter where you're from right now, guys can come and compete and win games, guys can carry teams, you can be a franchise player.

"I feel like when I came in 10 years ago it was kind of hard, you saw I think only Dirk [Nowitzki] but now it's way more, from Luka [Doncic], to [Nikola] Jokic, from [Joel] Embiid, from [Pascal] Siakam, me, [Rudy] Gobert, both of the Bogdanovic's [Bojan and Bogdan], you see guys that are stepping up and helping their team win.

"People before set the path for us... and we have to set the path for the next generation, for people from overseas that 'you can come to the NBA and be that guy'."

Meanwhile, Holiday – who ended the game with 19 points – admitted he had not even realised he and his team-mates had won 10 in a row.

"There's a point in the season when things get repetitive, and winning has been," he said after the victory, emphasising the calm focus the Bucks have had in the last few weeks.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was pleased with his team after they followed up wins on the road over the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers with another against the Clippers.

"The guys' focus has been good, we're obviously in a good rhythm, it's good," he said.

"Now we have a couple of days without a game, catch up on our bodies and things like that so it was a very good road trip for us."

Anthony Davis insisted his reluctance to celebrate LeBron James' NBA scoring record was related to the state of Tuesday's game rather than any issue between the two Los Angeles Lakers superstars.

James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-time record against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Davis did not look to join his Lakers team-mates in saluting the new scoring king.

Fan footage posted on social media showed Davis sat on the bench, with his view of the court obscured by standing Lakers, as James made his historic fadeaway jumper.

That reaction prompted puzzlement from those on the outside of the organisation, but Davis provided an explanation on Thursday.

As he pointed out, the Lakers trailed the Thunder at the time of James' history-making bucket, which saw the game paused, and LA were unable to rally later in the 133-130 defeat.

Speaking after another home loss against the Milwaukee Bucks, seeing the Lakers fall to 25-31 in 13th place in the West, Davis appeared irked by mention of the topic as he said: "You all know mine and Bron's relationship. It's nothing.

"It's about the game. We're losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game we needed. And I was p***ed off that we were losing. It's that simple.

"It's nothing that has to do with Bron. He knows that.

"Everybody else is outside looking in, it's their opinion. But I was p***ed off that we were losing the game."

The Brooklyn Nets are off to a winning start after trading away both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the trade deadline, defeating the Chicago Bulls 116-105 with their new-look line-up.

In his first appearance since arriving as the key piece back from the Dallas Mavericks in return for Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie looked right at home as he delivered a game-winning performance.

Dinwiddie – who spent five season with the Nets from 2016-2021 – was clearly the focal point of coach Jacque Vaughn's offense. He started, led the team with 39 minutes played, and posted team-highs in points (25), assists (six) and steals (four) with a plus/minus of plus 25.

The only player with a better plus/minus was fellow former Maverick Dorian Finney-Smith, who was plus 32 in his 35 minutes, scoring nine points and grabbing nine rebounds after immediately stepping into a key role.

Brooklyn were without both Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, who they acquired from the Phoenix Suns in return for Kevin Durant, and when interviewed during the game, Bridges said they hope to debut in their new colours on Saturday against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers.

For the Bulls, Zach Lavine was impressive with a game-high 38 points on 16-of-25 shooting, although he did not contribute much else, with one point, one rebound, no steals or blocks, and four turnovers.

With the win, the Nets improved their record to 33-22, and they now sit 3.5 games clear of the play-in race, comfortably in the fifth seed for the time being.

Orlando's depth delivers Denver demise

The Orlando Magic reserves dominated the Denver Nuggets' bench to pull out a 115-104 home win against the Western Conference leaders.

It was another typical masterclass from reigning back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic, scoring 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting with 12 rebounds and six assists, but the Nuggets lacked further firepower in the absence of Jamal Murray, who troublingly missed his third game in a row with knee inflammation.

Denver were plus eight in Jokic's 38 minutes, but were outscored by 19 in the 10 minutes he was on the bench.

Orlando were led by a terrific Cole Anthony showing, coming off the pine to score 17 points with seven rebounds and seven assists, while Bol Bol had 17 points in 15 minutes.

Giannis too big, too strong for undermanned Lakers

LeBron James was out and the Los Angeles Lakers' new arrivals were also not ready as Giannis Antetokounmpo carried the Milwaukee Bucks to a 115-106 victory.

The Lakers should have their newly constructed line-up when they next take the floor – having acquired Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and D'Angelo Russell at the deadline while shipping off Russell Westbrook – but Anthony Davis' 23 points and 16 assists was not enough against the Bucks.

Antetokounmpo controlled proceedings with a game-high 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting, adding 10 rebounds and six assists, while Khris Middleton looked like his All-NBA self with 22 points (10-of-18) off the bench.

Giannis Antetokounmpo joked he will celebrate with "50 cheeseburgers" after his latest 50-point showing in the Milwaukee Bucks' 106-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The two-time MVP scored 20 of his 54 points in the fourth quarter of Thursday's contest as the Bucks recovered from a 21-point deficit to win for a sixth game in a row.

He has now reached the 50-point mark three times in his last 11 games, having hit a career-high 55 against the Washington Wizards and 50 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Antetokounmpo was filmed ordering 50 chicken nuggets when the Bucks landed their first title in 50 years in 2021, and he now plans on doing something similar.

"I think I'm going to go to Culver's tomorrow," he said. "I'll go get 50 cheeseburgers and try to eat as many as I can. The rest, I'll have my son eat them or I give them to my dog."

 

Antetokounmpo also had 18 rebounds against the Clippers as he continued his remarkable form since returning from injury last month.

The 28-year-old has helped the Bucks to a 6-0 record in that period, averaging 40.2 points per game, 14.7 rebounds per game and four assists per game.

He is the first NBA player to average 40/12/4 while going undefeated over a six-game span since Wilt Chamberlain did so in January 1964.

And Antetokounmpo has also joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Bucks' history to have at least three 50-point games in a single season.

"It's a great compliment to be up there with Kareem," Antetokounmpo said. "I never thought I was going to score 50 in the NBA when I got drafted. It's an insane, crazy journey."

Antetokounmpo has now averaged 32.3 points per game across 41 appearances this season, a tally bettered only by Luka Doncic (33.4) and Joel Embiid (33.5).

"He's relentless," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after his side's comeback win over the Clippers. 

"He's going to put himself in position to help us win. Whatever it takes for us to win, he's going to do it. He's fearless and relentless. That's what you saw going down the stretch."

Former MVP James Harden and Atlanta Hawks franchise player Trae Young were among those to miss out on All-Star selection after the Eastern Conference reserves were announced on Thursday.

The starters had already been named a week ago, with Brooklyn Nets tandem Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant being joined by Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell and Boston Celtics MVP candidate Jayson Tatum on the East team, captained by Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

After being a surprise omission from the starters, Philadelphia 76ers back-to-back MVP runner-up Joel Embiid headlined the reserves, where he will be joined by Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, Celtics wing Jaylen Brown, New York Knicks big-man Julius Randle, Chicago Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan, Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday and Indiana Pacers rising star Tyrese Haliburton.

It is the sixth consecutive All-Star selection for Embiid, the sixth overall for DeRozan, while it will be the second time for Adebayo, Brown, Randle and Holiday – with Holiday having to wait 10 years between drinks after his first selection in 2013.

Haliburton was the only first-time All-Star in the East, and he had to beat out some serious names to earn the honour.

The Pacers point guard is averaging career-highs in points (20.2) and assists (10.2) after being traded from the Sacramento Kings at last season's trade deadline, while his 1.8 steals per game has him sitting fourth in the league.

His 10.2 assists per game trails only Harden (11.0), while Harden is also averaging more points (21.4), rebounds (6.4 to 4.0) and owns a superior record. Harden – who had made 10 consecutive All-Star Games prior to this season – is 23-11 in his 34 contests entering Thursday, while Haliburton's Pacers are 22-18 in his 40 appearances.

The 76ers are the only of the East's top-four teams to not send two players to All-Star Weekend.

Meanwhile, Young's Hawks also sit two places above the Pacers in the standings with a 26-26 record. With 27.0 points and 9.9 assists per game, Young joins Harden and back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic as the only players in the league averaging at least 21 points and nine assists.

Khris Middleton is unconcerned by his bench role after his best game of 2023 during the Milwaukee Bucks' win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.

The small forward posted 18 points, three rebounds and three assists to help his side pull away in the third quarter en route to a 124-115 victory.

Having struggled with soreness in his right knee that led him to missing 18 games, the three-time All-Star has worked his way back in recent weeks.

After delivering the best performance of his latest comeback spell, Middleton stressed he remains untroubled by performing a role that requires him to come off the sidelines.

"I started my career coming off the bench, so it doesn't really bother me at all," he said. "I've been on the bench before, not playing games.

"Sometimes, [I am] coming in [the] first quarter, [the] second quarter or not until the second half. I just know I have to stay ready and have to be loose.

"Right now, I'm trying to be as aggressive as I can. I know it sounds simple, but that's just the mindset I'm trying to come up with, especially with my limited minutes.

"Hopefully as my minutes keep going [up], I keep the same mindset, because it's been working."

Middleton featured for 20 minutes as team-mate Giannis Antetokounmpo guided the Bucks to victory with 34 points and 18 rebounds.

They next play the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday and then the Miami Heat two days later in a double home stand.

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