Giannis Antetokounmpo scores 50 for the Bucks

MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo saw it.

The Milwaukee Bucks star was about to begin a courtside interview after the game when out of the corner of his eye he saw his teammates standing in the tunnel. He also knew exactly what they were up to.

As more teammates appeared, Antetokounmpo slowly began to retreat from the baseline all the way to half court.

Ultimately, he accepted his fate and was showered by his teammates to celebrate another great performance – 50 points and 13 rebounds on 20-of-26 shooting in just 30 minutes as the Bucks beat the New Orleans Pelicans 135-110 in Sunday.

Normally, the postgame water shower is reserved for the locker room, but his teammates decided it should be done on the court.

“We can do it in front of everybody,” Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said. “It’s really just to show how much we appreciate him. For him to go out there and do that is unbelievable, no matter how many times you score 50 points.”

It was the fifth 50-point regular season game of Antetokounmpo’s career and his second this month – the first time he’s had multiple 50-point games in the same season. He scored a career-high 55 points on Jan. 3 against the Detroit Pistons. He also joins Joel Embiid as the only players this season with multiple 50-point, 10-rebound games this season.

Antetokounmpo had 18 points in the first quarter, getting off to a fast start and never looking back. He had 29 points in the half, which is the second most points he has had in a first half.

Holiday said Antetokounmpo just makes it look easy and knows exactly what to do when he starts like he did Sunday.

“The weather is great,” Holliday said. “Everybody just gets on his shoulders and we just ride him. At this point, we just have to back it up. If he hands it to us, make the shot. But for the most part, we know who’s going to carry us.”

Bucks center Brook Lopez said when Antetokounmpo plays the way he has, he’s just “fun to watch.”

“He came out on the court with his usual determination,” Lopez said. “He didn’t put up. He would get to the edge in ways only he could and finish. Those are tough finishes and he was still getting them.”

Antetokounmpo entered the fourth quarter with 35 points and had 44 points before knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to reach 50.

He admitted he knew he was close to the 50-point mark late as he was hoisting the threes.

“I knew if I could rebound, I was going to shoot,” Antetokounmpo said. “It doesn’t always work out, but tonight it did. I didn’t hesitate at all. I managed to get my feet under my kick. I stayed there and just watched the ball go in.

“It’s one of those moments that you can never take for granted because you never know when you’re going to have those moments again.”

Antetokounmpo immediately turned his attention to the Charlotte Hornets, who the Bucks play Tuesday night. The last time the teams played on Jan. 6, the Hornets cruised to a 138-109 victory.

Antetokounmpo finished with just nine points and four rebounds on 2-of-7 shooting tonight, a far cry from his efficient night against the Pelicans on Sunday.

“Tonight I think 50 on 26 shots is impressive,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Just everything he did, his aggressiveness. A few threes, especially late. But he shoots well. We feel like a few more catches and layups is something, if we can generate a few of those for him and build the confidence in that area, keep getting to the free throw line and working on that, those are areas where he’s improves.”

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