If you haven’t watched much of the Milwaukee Bucks lately, and have only sort of dimly been paying attention to the fact that they’re puttering around in the kind of malaise that leads to star players and assistant coaches lobbing expletives at one another on the bench, you might have begun to forget the thing about the Bucks that is most important. That thing: Giannis Antetokounmpo is such an absurd athletic specimen as to be nearly indescribable, so much fun to watch that’s it’s almost like you’re getting away with something, and so mesmerizing that you can live through a lot of busted defensive rotations, John Henson half-hooks and DeAndre Liggins possessions.
How lucky we are, then, that Giannis decided to take the opportunity in the first half of Thursday’s NBA TV-broadcast matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers — who entered the evening with the West’s fourth-best record, thanks largely to (somewhat surprisingly) owning the NBA’s No. 3 defense — to remind us what an irrepressibly wonderful font of entertainment he can be.
Get some, Moe Harkless:
Get more, Al-Farouq Aminu:
Get even more than that, Noah Vonleh:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 1, 2017
Get the most, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard:
Antetokounmpo didn’t lead the Bucks in scoring in the first half; that was Eric Bledsoe, who scored 17 on 8-for-10 shooting. (He also slotted in behind Khris Middleton’s 14.) He didn’t have the best plus-minus on the team; that was Henson, in whose 16 minutes the Bucks outscored the Blazers by 17 points. (Giannis was a plus-15 in 17 minutes.) But he was a little bit of everywhere, scoring 10 points with four assists, three rebounds and those three emphatic blocks, helping stake the Bucks to a big double-digit lead in Portland’s gym.
And the way he was everywhere — elbows and knees flying, nothing ever out of reach, the world carried lightly on those increasingly broad shoulders — well, it’s just a fun reminder of how much he can do and how cool it is to watch him do it. Sometimes you can tune into a the back end of an NBA TV doubleheader and get poetry, punk rock and a reason to rewind — or four or five of them — in the space of a couple of quarters. Pretty decent deal.
Antetokounmpo struggled with his shot on Thursday, needing 20 shots to score 20 points. But he added nine rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks in 36 1/2 minutes to help the Bucks score an impressive 103-91 win over the Blazers. Middleton led the way with 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Bledsoe added 25 with four dimes and two steals; both made 10 of their 17 shots for the Bucks, who improved to 11-9.
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