Giannis Antetokounmpo sits vs. Cavaliers with back spasms

Published January 10, 2021, 12:00 AMAssociated Press

The reigning two-time Kia MVP was injured in a hard fall during Friday's loss to the Utah Jazz.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo isn’t playing Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers after taking a hard fall a night earlier in the Milwaukee Bucks’ loss to the Utah Jazz.

The Bucks’ injury report listed the 6-foot-11 forward with back spasms.

Antetokounmpo leaped in front of the basket to defend Utah’s Rudy Gobert and landed hard with 9 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter Friday. He rolled around in pain on the floor and went into the tunnel but immediately returned to the game and ended up with 35 points in the Bucks’ 131-118 loss.

“He’s very sore, very stiff,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Saturday. “There’s not much of a discussion or anything today. We are hopeful that it’s a short-term thing. He has been managing, I think probably every season, some back, just kind of awareness and things like that.

“We’ll see how he feels. Another 24-48 hours can make a big difference. He’s a quick healer and everything. When appropriate, we’ll always err on the side of caution in keeping him healthy and thinking about the long term with him.”

The Bucks next play at Orlando on Monday.

Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.1 points, 10.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists. This will be the first game he has missed this season.

He won’t be the only notable player missing from this game.

Cleveland’s Collin Sexton, who averages a team-high 25.1 points, will miss a second straight game with a sprained left ankle. Other sidelined Cavaliers include Kevin Love (strained right calf), Matthew Dellavedova (concussion), Dante Exum (strained right calf), Darius Garland (sprained right shoulder), Kevin Porter Jr. (personal reasons) and Dylan Windler (fractured left hand).