Antetokounmpo comes up tops in battle of stars

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo driving past New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson on Thursday. Hosts Milwaukee won 129-125.
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo driving past New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson on Thursday. Hosts Milwaukee won 129-125. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MILWAUKEE • The National Basketball Association's (NBA) most lethal interior scorers on Thursday went head-to-head for the third time, and Giannis Antetokounmpo once again got the better of Zion Williamson.

The back-to-back league Most Valuable Player had 38 points and 10 rebounds as the hosts Milwaukee Bucks held off the New Orleans Pelicans 129-125 for their fourth straight win.

It was the 26-year-old's third consecutive game with at least 35 points.

Williamson, the 20-year-old who this week was voted by Western Conference coaches to become the fourth-youngest player in NBA history to play in an All-Star Game, had a career-high 24 points in the first half.

He finished with 34 points and eight rebounds.

The Greek also outscored and outrebounded Williamson in both previous clashes. But Williamson entered the game averaging a league-high 19 points in the paint while Antetokounmpo was averaging 16.8. And the No. 1 pick of the 2019 draft continues to impress Antetokounmpo.

"It doesn't take one person, you gotta show bodies. When he drives the ball he has such a quick second jump," Antetokounmpo said of the power forward, with the superstars trading jerseys after the game at Fiserv Forum.

"It's someone... we've never seen anybody like it, I have never seen anybody like it in the past."

The duo put on a show from tip-off - Williamson's 11 first-quarter points included two dunks and a putback; Antetokounmpo's 13 included a turnaround hook.

They epitomised a high-scoring, back-and-forth contest that featured 23 lead changes and 15 ties.

Both teams shot 50 per cent or better for the game, but Milwaukee outscored New Orleans 26-22 in the fourth quarter, the only period in which both teams scored fewer than 30 points.

Bucks forward Khris Middleton had 31 points and Donte DiVincenzo added a career-high 24 points. Brandon Ingram had 23 points for New Orleans while Lonzo Ball scored 20.

The Pelicans had a chance to tie with a three-pointer in the final seconds, but Ingram was called for an offensive foul and Antetokounmpo made one of two free throws.

"I don't think down the stretch that we were having trouble getting shots," New Orleans coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We just didn't make them."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2021, with the headline Antetokounmpo comes up tops in battle of stars. Subscribe