MILWAUKEE—Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 17 rebounds in just 24 minutes, and the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks showed they were serious about making a playoff run with a 121-86 rout of the Detroit Pistons in Game One on Sunday night.
The Most Valuable Player (MVP) candidate ran and dunked all over the Pistons, who only really caught him when center Andre Drummond shoved him to the ground with both hands late in the third quarter after Antetokounmpo grabbed an offensive rebound with Detroit trailing by 41 points.
Drummond was given a flagrant 2 foul and ejected. He threw a kiss to the Fiserv Forum crowd as he was escorted off the court.
Seven Bucks players scored in double figures. Eric Bledsoe had 15 points, and Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton each added 14. George Hill scored 16 points off the bench.
Luke Kennard paced the Pistons with 21 points off the bench and Drummond had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Reggie Jackson also had 12 points. Detroit played without forward Blake Griffin, who sat out with a left-knee injury.
James Harden had 29 points and 10 assists to help Houston rout Utah, 122-90, in the opener of a best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
The Rockets had a double-digit lead for most of the game, but the Jazz got within five points midway through the third quarter before Houston used a big run to pull away and sail to the victory.
Houston’s starting lineup helped carry the scoring load on Sunday night, with each starter scoring at least 10 points. Eric Gordon had 17, Clint Capela scored 16, Chris Paul added 14 and P.J. Tucker had 11.
Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell had 19 points, but did not have an assist as the Jazz went long stretches without scoring.
Game Two is on Wednesday night in Houston.
Damian Lillard scored 30 points and third-seeded Portland opened its playoff series against No. 6 Oklahoma City with a 104-99 victory.
Enes Kanter added 20 points and a career playoff-high 18 rebounds for the Blazers, who were making their sixth straight postseason appearance. CJ McCollum added 24 points.
Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his ninth career postseason triple-double. Paul George, who was a game-time decision because of a sore shoulder, added 26 points and 10 rebounds after a slow start.
Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris each scored 20 points, and Boston rallied in the second half to beat Indiana, 84-74, in Game One of their first-round playoff series.
Jayson Tatum finished with 15 points. Al Horford added 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Gordon Hayward had 10 points. It was the first playoff game since 2017 for Irving and Hayward after each missed last year’s postseason with injuries.
Game Two is on Wednesday night in Boston.
The Pacers led by 11 points in the first half but had just eight points in the third quarter. The Celtics capitalized and led by as many as 22 in the fourth. Indiana scored 29 points in the second half, and the quarter and half were both its worst of the season.
Cory Joseph had 14 points for the Pacers. Bojan Bogdanovic was the lone Pacers starter in double figures with 12 points.
Image credits: AP