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Lillard 'phenomenal' as Bucks bounce back against Nets

LOS ANGELES – Damian Lillard scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and came up with two late steals as the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back from a loss to NBA leaders Boston with a 115-108 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday (Friday Manila time).

Lillard added 12 assists and Milwaukee's two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a two-game injury absence to score 21 points with nine rebounds and five assists to help the Bucks grind out a win on the second night of a back-to-back.

Lillard was key on both ends of the floor. It was tied at 96-96 with less than five minutes remaining when he poked the ball away from driving Brooklyn guard Cam Thomas, launching a fast break capped by a three-point play by Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee were up 103-101 with 1:41 to play when Lillard grabbed another steal and found Malik Beasley for a 3-pointer.

Lillard drained a 3-pointer himself with 1:11 remaining and his trey with 41 seconds to go pushed Milwaukee's lead to 10 points.

"Dame, defensively, was phenomenal — all game," Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers said. "He's a very competitive guy and you could see that tonight."

Antetokounmpo, who had missed two games with hamstring trouble, scored nine points in the first quarter as the Bucks took a 26-19 lead.

They led by as many as 20 in the first half before the Nets, led by 24 points from Mikal Bridges, worked their way back.

"I like how we kind of gathered ourselves," Rivers said. "They took the lead, we came back and got stops. We didn't play well the beginning of the third.

"The first half, the ball was hopping. It was beautiful. And then we kind of went back to that hold-the-ball, no-movement style," Rivers added. "We had to play ourselves through that."

The defending champion Denver Nuggets continued their late-season surge with a 113-100 home victory over the New York Knicks and Luka Doncic and the Mavericks put on a show in a 113-97 victory over the Utah Jazz in Dallas.

Michael Porter Jr. connected on 13 of 16 shots to score 31 points for Denver, his highlight reel night including an alley-oop pass to himself off the glass.

Nikola Jokic delivered his 22nd triple-double of the season with