We all know Giannis Antetokounmpo is special, but last night epitomized it even further (if that was even possible). His 55 points served as a new career-high and catapulted the Bucks past the Wizards, 123-113.
Despite Brook Lopez getting in foul trouble early on yet again in this one, Milwaukee didn’t crumble in the opening frame. Led by ten points from Giannis, the Bucks clung to a 32-28 advantage after 12 minutes of action.
The Bucks wouldn’t be able to continue the momentum they saw in the first, as the Wizards were pesky throughout the second, forcing Milwaukee to work on multiple possessions. However, late in the second, a Bobby Portis three would put the home team up by double-digits — an advantage they’d carry into the locker room at 61-49 following a Giannis lay-in.
The Wizards wouldn’t roll over in the third, forcing the Bucks to prove their worth. Led by strong play from Giannis, Milwaukee was able to keep their lead heading into the fourth, though it was sliced to just five at 90-85.
The Bucks stayed in front throughout the fourth, but it never seemed to be too significant of an advantage. Washington did a fantastic job of staying in it, prying their way back seemingly every time things were grim for them. However, Giannis Antetokounpo would soon take over in a HUGE way. He’d eventually put together a career-high 55 points, delivering the well-needed win for the Bucks, 113-123.
In addition to Antetokounmpo’s 55 points, Brook Lopez had a massive impact with a 21 point outing, tearing Washington apart with a 10-of-13 field goal performance, 12 rebounds, and six blocked shots. Bobby Portis also had an influential performance off the bench, totaling another double-double with 17 points and 13 boards.
For the Wizards, Kristaps Porzingis led the way with 22 points. Kyle Kuzma finished with 12. Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, and Corey Kispert all finished with 12 apiece off the bench.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is out of this world.
I mean, how do you describe the performance he put on? I’m at a loss of words. The way he just put his teammates on his back, prevented the Wizards from overcoming their deficit, and just putting on an absolute show — wow. Going 20-of-33 from the floor proved to be quite efficient, but even more efficient was his performance at the free throw line: 15-of-16. Bud mentioned how this allowed them to keep some separation and how that provided him more confidence to continue attacking and going back to the line. Despite this performance, I guarantee that Giannis is still disappointed he couldn’t surpass or at least match Michael Redd’s franchise record of 57 points — but who knows how much longer that’ll last.
Milwaukee’s bigs stepped up in a huge way.
Looking at the box score, it’s incredible just how massive they were. Brook Lopez was astounding, going 10-of-13 from the floor, all of which flourished for 21 points. He was also a beast on the boards, corralling in 12 of them — including six on the offensive side of the glass. He also produced six blocked shots with a number of them coming late in the game, making it difficult for the Wizards to generate any traction down low and snuffing out their last-ditch comeback efforts. Bobby Portis was also massive, especially when Lopez was out in the early portion of this game due to foul trouble. BP finished with 17 off the bench, including 13 rebounds. Just another night at the office for the double-double machine.
The Bucks seem to be having fun.
This was a theme of the postgame pressers — how the guys are enjoying one another. I know there’s been some speculation about some potential poor chemistry in the locker room (stemming from an episode of Bill Simmons’ podcast), but you won’t hear that from any of the players or coaches in Milwaukee. Brook Lopez was the main one talking about this, and one teammate he called out was Joe Ingles. It’s clear how the Aussie has had such a positive impact on the team with his humor off the court, and even with us in the media (trust me, he’s an absolute jokester). It’s players like Ingles that make this Bucks team click and his presence will continue to be appreciated both on and off the court.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- How about this stat for Giannis? He’s now scored 40+ points in each of his last three games, which marks a new career-long streak and matches the longest 40-point streak in franchise history (done twice: K. Abdul-Jabbar, Feb. 2-5, 1972;, F. Robinson, Feb. 16-22, 1969).
- How did Brook Lopez sum up Giannis’ performance to us in his postgame availability?
Brook Lopez on words to describe Giannis' new career-high of 55 points: "I'm gonna have to use foreign languages."— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 4, 2023
- Jrue Holiday returned to action, posting a modest stat line of six points in just a tick under 19 minutes played. He was surely getting ramped back up slowly, but man, you know it’s good news for Milwaukee that he’s returned.
- Daniel Gafford had a wild alley-oop in this one. It seemed as if he reached the roof of Fiserv on it.
- Speaking of Gafford, Giannis nearly ended his life late in the fourth...
Giannis almost ended Daniel Gafford pic.twitter.com/kvAHFZiQUf— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) January 4, 2023
Here’s what Giannis told us about this following the game:
Giannis on this: "I got too excited."— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 4, 2023
He went on to say: "My significant other's telling me they don't post you on @HoHighlights anymore because you don't dunk the ball. You don't get as high as the young fellas."
He then joked: "I've been here a decade. The legs are gone." https://t.co/VGUyxnyQQc
- Last, this was pretty special to see:
Milwaukee has an absolute gem.