'Greek Freak' helps hungry Bucks overwhelm Warriors

Giannis Antetokounmpo is already being considered a contender for the Most Valuable Player award, even though the National Basketball Association campaign is only 11 games in.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is already being considered a contender for the Most Valuable Player award, even though the National Basketball Association campaign is only 11 games in.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA

LOS ANGELES • The National Basketball Association (NBA) campaign is only 11 games in, but Giannis Antetokounmpo is already being considered a contender for the Most Valuable Player award.

Going into Thursday's match-up with champions, the Golden State Warriors, the Milwaukee Bucks' two-time All-Star forward had been averaging 25.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.2 blocks.

But he knew that he needed to make a statement against MVP rivals Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry to show that the Bucks' early-season rampage, with only two losses on the road, was not just a flash in the pan.

And Antetokounmpo did exactly that, putting up 24 points, grabbing nine rebounds and contributing four assists as his team beat the Warriors comfortably 134-111 at the Oracle Centre in Oakland for the second successive meeting.

The 2.11m "Greek Freak" later urged the Bucks, the league's top-scoring team behind the Warriors, to keep up their hot form.

"We've just got to keep getting better every day and playing good basketball," he said.

The Bucks not only handed the Warriors, who fell to 10-2 as they chase a hat-trick of NBA titles, their first home defeat of the season, but also snapped their eight-game winning streak.

It did not help that, against an in-form Antetokounmpo, the hosts were missing their injured big men, Draymond Green and new boy DeMarcus Cousins, a long-term victim of a ruptured Achilles tendon.

 
 
 

But coach Steve Kerr said that was no excuse for stepping onto the court "with mindless intent".

"Sometimes, you've got to get hit in the mouth in this league to remind you how hard it is to win a game," he added.

"When you're fouling and not executing, just taking quick shots against a really good team - a team that's hungry and on the rise - you're not going to fare very well."

To make matters worse, Golden State lost Curry, who had 10 points, to a left adductor strain in the third quarter. It was left to Klay Thompson to pace them with 24 points, with Durant adding 17.

The team have not confirmed how long the five-time All-Star Curry, who underwent an MRI scan yesterday, will be out for.

But Durant told a radio station that the league's top scorer, who has been averaging 29.5 points per game, "seemed good".

Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe led all scorers with 26 points as the Bucks outscored their opponents 84-34 in the paint and led them 20-4 in fast-break points. The visitors also parlayed 18 turnovers into 23 points.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2018, with the headline ''Greek Freak' helps hungry Bucks overwhelm Warriors'. Print Edition | Subscribe