MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The start to the game was unusual. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s final stat line was not.
After waiting out a long delay, Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-106 on Monday night.
Antetokounmpo, the reigning NBA MVP, has posted a double-double in all seven games this season.
“Once you go out there, you have a mindset that you’re going to play a game, you’re going to go hard,” Antetokounmpo said. “Once you cannot go hard, you’ve got to almost switch mindsets.”
The game was delayed 50 minutes so one of the baskets could be fixed before tipoff. During pregame warmups, the rim the Bucks were shooting on was discovered to be crooked.
“I was making shots,” Antetokounmpo joked. “So I was happy. Once they said the rim is crooked, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s why I was making a lot of shots.’ Yeah, it was disturbing, because everybody was ready to go. We had to wait, like, probably, what was it, an hour?”
If the Bucks were thrown off by the delay, it didn’t show. Milwaukee shot 53.8 percent from the field.
Khris Middleton added 26 points to match his season high, and Eric Bledsoe set a season best with 22. Bledsoe also had nine rebounds and six assists.
“There’s just no excuses,” Middleton said. “We just had to stay professional and be as ready as we could.”
Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 25 points. Minnesota played without center Karl-Anthony Towns, who served the second game of his two-game suspension for his part in an altercation with Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid last week. Robert Covington added 15 points.
The Bucks outscored the Towns-less Timberwolves 62-38 in the paint.
“They’re a good team,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said. “You know, the credit goes to them. They overwhelmed us a little bit in the third quarter.”
Milwaukee broke open the game with a 38-point third that included a 22-6 run.
Antetokounmpo scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in the period.
“We didn’t make shots. We got stagnant,” Covington said. “We didn’t come out with the urgency that we know we needed to. Just too much playing catch-up.”
The Bucks were up seven at halftime thanks in part to coach Mike Budenholzer winning a coach’s challenge with 0.2 seconds left in the second quarter. That overturned an offensive foul on Antetokounmpo and resulted in a layup for him.
Donte DiVincenzo scored a season-best 17 off the bench for Milwaukee.
“A little bit of a strange night between the beginning and different things during the game,” Budenholzer said. “I thought the guys had a great focus. I thought the third quarter was really good.”
Bucks guards Wesley Matthews and Pat Connaughton returned to action. Connaughton (right shoulder strain) sat out Saturday’s win over Toronto, while Matthews injured his ankle Saturday and played only nine minutes.
Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng made his second consecutive start in place of the suspended Towns. Backup point guard Shabazz Napier left in the fourth quarter with a strained right hamstring. He is day-to-day.
The Bucks spent the delay in the locker room, telling stories about odd events they’d experienced in their careers or watched on TV.
“The first thing that came to mind for me was back when prime Shaq was breaking backboards every other game,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said.
Bucks: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, the second stop on a four-game road trip. Milwaukee is in the middle of playing nine of 11 away from home.
Timberwolves: At the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. The Grizzlies have won 27 of 37 meetings in the last decade.