Giannis Antetokoumpo has had his struggles this month with injuries, having played in eight of 14 games that the Bucks have taken part in this season.
However, when he’s been on his game, he’s still one of the most dangerous players in the NBA. That was evidenced today by his second 50-point game of January, which happened in a dominant 135-110 win over the shorthanded New Orleans Pelicans.
He shot a blistering 20 of 26 from the field as he finished with 50 points and 13 rebounds, which included going 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. He only struggled from the free throw line, where he shot 7 of 12, but that didn’t stop his team from winning by a 25-point margin.
His performance was even more impressive because neither the starters (46 points) nor bench (39 points) managed to match his output. Antetokounmpo simple wouldn’t be denied from anywhere on the court, and his ability to take advantage of his physical gifts continues to be entertaining for NBA fans worldwide.
Antetokounmpo’s had a strong season so far and has broken the 40-point barrier a total of 10 times so far this campaign. With the Bucks still trying to compete for the first seed, where they’re only 2.5 games behind the league-leading Boston Celtics, he’ll need to continue dominating to ensure home court advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs. The Brooklyn Nets are struggling behind them in fourth due to Kevin Durant’s injury, but he might be back in a couple of weeks, so the Bucks can’t let their foot off the gas.
There’s little doubt that he’s capable of doing it, but the better news for the Bucks is that Khris Middleton continues to play himself into shape for the stretch run. Middleton put up nine points, three rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block in 18 minutes of the bench. The Bucks have gone 4-0 since Middleton came back.
Jrue Holiday had a good all-around game too, with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists, though it’s worth noting that he did struggle from three and went 1 of 7 from distance. Brook Lopez also missed all four of his triples, but still finished the game with 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.