Twenty-eight points, a career-high 14 assists, 11 rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
Four triple-doubles in three weeks.
Zero hope for the Nets' defense.
That's the latest round mathematically-defying numbers from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who reminded us just how indefensible he can be in the Bucks' nervous 109-100 win over the struggling Nets in Brooklyn on Sunday night. Giannis scored 10 of his game-high 28 in the fourth, Khris Middleton added 19p/7a/5r5s and Jabari Parker scored 23 as the Bucks finished the game on a 25-9 run to win their third straight game.
Though they ultimately pulled away thanks to a raft of Brooklyn turnovers, the Bucks couldn't stop Brooklyn from hitting 12 threes and connecting on 56% from the field. Brook Lopez (20 points on 12 shots) and Thad Young (17p/10r/4a) were unsurprisingly problems for the Bucks inside, though the Nets really got going in the second half thanks to the sharpshooting efforts of Sean Kilpatrick (19 points on 13 shots) and Bojan Bogdanovic (13 points on 9 shots)
Thankfully for the Bucks, a combination of Bucks' defensive pressure and Nets' sloppiness ultimately turned the game in Milwaukee's favor. Owing largely to Antetokounmpo's irresistible work in transition, the Bucks outscored the Nets 33-18 off turnovers and 23-8 on the break, as the Bucks feasted on 12 Nets turnovers in the fourth to turn a 91-84 deficit into a 109-100 final score.
Despite missing a pair of driving layups, Giannis did almost everything else right early in the first quarter, carving up the Nets' defense with seven assists as the Bucks raced to an early 10-point lead. However, sloppy passing led to a number of Nets fast breaks and a quick 7-0 response, as the Bucks had to settle for a 27-25 edge after one quarter thanks to a Jabari Parker leaner (the last of his 11 points in the period).
After showing off his passing skills in the first, Antetokounmpo then reminded everyone what he could do as a scorer in the second, first clowning Shane Larkin and the Nets' transition defense with a phenomenal pass fake and finish, and then splitting a double team for another flush moments later:
GIANNIS CARES NOT FOR YOUR DOUBLE TEAMS https://t.co/16WK2wWsJR— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) March 14, 2016
Still, for all the highlights the Bucks still couldn't shake the Nets. Lopez and Young repeatedly worked the Bucks over in the post, each scoring 10 in the first half, and the Nets shot 50% overall to offset a 10-1 Bucks edge on the offensive glass. It felt like the Bucks should have been rolling, and yet at the intermission they found themselves trailing 51-50. Parker was as a result visibly annoyed in his on-court interview, shaking his head repeatedly at the Bucks' inability to hold their lead.
The Bucks turned their frustration into renewed resolve to open the third, ripping off a 14-4 run to the start the half thanks largely to you-know-who. First Giannis buried a long catch-and-shoot two from the left side. Then he found Middleton for an open three from the top of the key, his tenth assist of the night. Moments later it was again Antetokounmpo on the break, laying it off for Jabari to slam home, before Monroe found a cutting Parker for another layup on the ensuing possession.
It seemed like the Bucks were on their way to blowing things open, but once again the Nets took the Bucks' body blows and responded with some of their own. Even with Giannis continuing to carve the Nets up and Jabari scoring 10 in the third, Bojan Bogdanovic's three triples eventually helped Brooklyn eventually tie the game at 74, and -- working against a reserve-heavy Bucks lineup featuring only Middleton -- Brooklyn went up 91-84 early in the fourth thanks to some lights-out shooting from former Bucks summer leaguer Kilpatrick.
Still, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks were not going to be denied. Though his free throw shooting was a trainwreck all night (4/11), the Nets were hopeless anytime Giannis had the ball in space, and 12 fourth quarter Nets turnovers assured that he had plenty of it. Entering the game with the Bucks down seven, Giannis scored eight points in three minutes to bring them within one, before Middleton eventually set up Parker for a layup and then hit a three of his own to extend the Bucks' lead to 105-98 with a minute left.
- Frank Madden
- Antetokounmpo has never played basketball more confidently on an NBA court than he did in the first half against the Nets. He was the best player on the floor and KNEW it. It's the first time I feel confident saying he felt that way.
- He's always sort of done it, but recently Parker has really made sure to show other teams that he is planning on destroying the rim before he catches the ball. He did it tonight on a fastbreak with Jerryd Bayless.
Bayless to Jabari on a fast-break. Get out of the way, Nets. pic.twitter.com/7loe0agIMn— Aron Yohannes (@AronYohannes) March 14, 2016
- Some guys can get to double-digit assists simply virtue of having the ball in their hands, but Antetokounmpo is regularly making passes that high-level point guards make. In other words, you don't stumble into 14 assists.
- Throughout the season, I've mentioned that a mistake we often make with young players is thinking that player development is gradual. In reality though, it is extremely irregular, often marked by periods of stagnation and other periods of rapid growth. We certainly seem to be in one of those rapid growth stages with Antetokounmpo. (I have definitely been guilty of this.)
- I feel confident saying Miles Plumlee is a better defender than Greg Monroe. I'm not confident saying he is an above-average defender.
- Newsflash: the Bucks' bench is really bad. Obviously, injuries have a lot to do with it, but it makes a lot of sense when things go poorly with bench-heavy units and when Jason Kidd decides to barely play much of his bench like he did on Saturday night.
- Speaking of the bench, the Bucks have staggered Antetokounmpo and Middleton with bench units this season. Both struggled with it to an extent at the start of the season, but eventually figured out that they needed to take control in those situations and maybe even take some bad shots. Recently, they've used Parker in those same situations. As Brett Abramczyk noted, Parker has struggled with this a little bit. It will be interesting to see if he grows in that role and if Jason Kidd will continue to give him the same opportunities with the bench guys.
Parker keeps playing in these lineups where he *should* have to carry the load... then he doesn't and the ball goes to Plumlee in the post.— Brett Abramczyk (@BrettAbramczyk) March 14, 2016
- Eric Nehm