Yep, he’s that good folks. In what was a back and forth affair, the Milwaukee Bucks took down the Portland Trailblazers 113-110 behind a career night from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee entered halftime tonight with a five-point lead, 60-55, with Giannis netting an absurd 21 points alone. The second half didn’t see either team pull ahead by a considerable margin, but when the Blazers closed Milwaukee’s lead late, Giannis was there to ensure they didn’t face back-to-back losses at home.
This was a statement game unlike we’ve probably ever seen from Giannis. His stamp on both ends of the court left a permanent mark at the Bradley Center, and his late game heroics from the block on Jusuf Nurkic to his thunderous slam that put Milwaukee ahead were a sign that he’s ascended to the absolute peak of current NBA players. He’s real, he’s spectacular and he’s ours. This is a game Milwaukee could’ve easily lost in the past, coming off a tough loss and playing on a back-to-back, but Giannis willed them to victory. Which is precisely what superstars do.
Relatively quiet for much of the first and third quarters, Giannis had 15 points in the second quarter, a flurry late in the third and finished the night with a career high 44 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Most importantly, with the Bucks trailing by one late he forced a steal on the defensive end that Brogdon punched to him on the run for the game-winning slam. He repeatedly treated Evan Turner like a tackling dummy in the fourth quarter, bullying him in the post and off the dribble. Giannis continues to look unstoppable as the season goes on, and his career night tonight was just another indication of his constant progression as a player.
Khris Middleton managed to make up for last night’s poor performance, outstripping his prior point total in tonight’s first half alone with 14 points. He ended with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists after a quiet second half, but it would be nice to see him put up more than just one 3-point attempt on the night. Tony Snell stepped it up considerably tonight, going a nearly perfect 7-8 from the field for 17 points and flashing a few nifty moves including an off-kilter stepback jumper on the baseline.
Portland’s stars featured the usual backcourt bastion of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard. Both were every bit the firebreathers they’re portrayed as, ripping up Milwaukee’s defenders at times with jabsteps, drives to the rim and pull-up jumpers. Both of them ended with 26 points tonight, although Lillard went just 6-14 from the field.
Stat that Stood Out
Greg Monroe played just seven minutes tonight while Henson netted 24. Monroe’s plodding nature generally doesn’t play well into the hands of the typically small lineups Portland plays, but it was still jarring to see him sit so long while Henson got so much run. Henson’s continued a strong series of games to start the season here, looking like the active defensive presence his shot blocking prowess always afforded his reputation around the league. He’s actualizing at least a bit of that lately and it’s been a welcome sight, although probably not to Moose who has seen his minutes totals dip to start the year.
Really though, all that matters tonight is Giannis’ godly stat line, so let’s just revel in this play one last time before we leave.