HOUSTON — A dominant all-around efficiency within the Milwaukee Bucks’ 116-109 street win over reigning MVP James Harden’s Houston Rockets on Wednesday may have offered Giannis Antetokounmpo an enormous platform to start campaigning for the NBA’s most prestigious particular person honor.
Antetokounmpo, nonetheless, eluded the early MVP dialogue like he so usually does defenders along with his long-legged Euro step.
“All I care about is successful, to be sincere with you,” Antetokounmpo mentioned after scoring 27 factors, grabbing a career-high 21 rebounds and meting out 5 assists for the East-leading Bucks within the win. “I know by successful — doing no matter it takes out there, serving to your teammates and simply leaving it every little thing on the ground — every little thing will take care of itself.”
If Antetokounmpo wants a marketing campaign supervisor, Milwaukee large man Brook Lopez appears up to the duty.
“I positively suppose it is our perception inside this locker room, and rather a lot simply across the league, that we’ve one of the best participant within the league proper right here,” Lopez mentioned. “He does it in so some ways. He makes so many of his gamers higher. He is all around the court docket consistently. It is so spectacular to watch each evening.”
Harden, who has repeatedly and adamantly declared not too long ago that he expects to win MVP, did nothing to diminish his odds regardless of an excellent defensive effort by the Bucks, who regularly pressured Harden to drive to his proper and into the Milwaukee bushes. Harden had 42 factors, 11 rebounds and 6 assists however was 13-of-30 from the ground and dedicated 9 turnovers.
Harden’s brilliance within the fourth quarter allowed the Rockets to slash a 15-point deficit to three with 2:37 remaining, when he hit a tricky floater. However Harden missed his ultimate 4 pictures, together with a pair of potential tying Three-pointers on the possession following his floater.
Antetokounmpo scored the dagger factors in a becoming method, flying in from the wing for a tip-in that put the Bucks up six factors with 39.1 seconds to play.
“He simply does every little thing,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer mentioned. “He has a big impact on successful.”
Antetokounmpo has put himself within the dialog in regards to the league’s greatest gamers by effectively averaging 26.6 factors, 12.eight rebounds and 6.zero assists and taking part in dominant protection for a Milwaukee group that has the NBA’s greatest successful proportion (29-11, .725). “The Greek Freak” is a singular expertise succesful of defending the rim defensively and creating off the dribble — usually his personal spectacular slam dunks — offensively.
“He isn’t regular,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni mentioned. “I imply, that man is 7 toes and has the [body] management, and all that he does. The man is a good, nice participant, so he is within the [MVP] dialog, as a result of they’re taking part in so effectively. And he must be, however we have rather a lot of basketball left.
“We’re solely midway there. He and James are up there with a pair of different guys, and it will kind itself out.”
Harden, whose league-leading scoring common is up to 33.9 factors per recreation after his franchise-record-tying 12th 40-point efficiency of the season, acknowledged that Antetokounmpo has earned his means into the dialogue about who’s one of the best participant within the league.
“He is up there,” Harden mentioned. “He is positively [elite], simply the way in which he impacts the sport.”
Antetokounmpo did not need any half of a dialogue about how the MVP race was shaping up because the NBA season’s halfway level nears. He referred to as the nationally televised win over Harden’s Rockets “simply one other recreation,” acknowledging it was enjoyable taking part in in that sort of highlight however emphasizing that the Bucks successful was vital, not his particular person statistics.
Knowledgeable that Lopez declared that the Bucks imagine he is the league’s greatest participant, Antetokounmpo smiled and joked that the large man is “my No. 1 fan.” However Antetokounmpo admitted that such standing ranks excessive amongst his targets.
“To be sincere with you, all I care about proper now could be getting higher, serving to my group win,” Antetokounmpo mentioned. “And [becoming the league’s best player is] going to take care of itself. I know that at some point it’d occur. I don’t know if I’m there but, however I’m going to do no matter it takes to get there, as a result of that is what I need to be.”