Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 50-point masterpiece

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 25: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 25: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

As the Milwaukee Bucks picked up their eighth straight win by defeating the Utah Jazz on Monday, Giannis Antetokounmpo produced a performance for the ages.

Joel Embiid was held scoreless by the Toronto Raptors. Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points in a Portland win. LeBron James even made some jump shots to help the Lakers to a win against the Spurs that everyone saw coming. Depending on where you get your NBA news from, there’s a real chance you may have missed the performance of the night.

Simply describing what Giannis Antetokounmpo did on Monday as the performance of the night undersells it in a major way too.

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Over the past 14 months, in particular, Milwaukee Bucks fans have become accustomed to Antetokounmpo delivering mind-bending performances with stunning regularity. It genuinely seems like there’s a new piece of history every night too.

If Antetokounmpo isn’t putting together the longest streak of double-doubles to open an NBA season since Bill Walton, he’s climbing franchise record leaderboards by passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in assists, Andrew Bogut in blocks, and Marques Johnson in rebounds. To be clear, these are all things that have happened in the last couple of weeks or so alone.

Still, even as Bucks fans get used to the absurd levels of excellence that Antetokounmpo brings to the table, he finds new ways to thrill and shake those at Fiserv Forum out of any kind of complacency induced stupor. Put simply, Giannis continues to top his own achievements. He continues to improve every year. The Greek Freak continues to amaze.

Even amidst all of that brilliance, Giannis’ performance against the Utah Jazz on Monday night was a masterpiece. He’s had brilliant games in higher stakes settings, and more dramatic moments at later points in the season, but rarely has Antetokounmpo been as effortlessly dominant and, crucially, as in control as he was against the Jazz.

Antetokounmpo’s final line of 50 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, and two steals doesn’t really seem real, and that’s even before diving into the finer details.

Those include the fact that the reigning MVP had zero turnovers, which considering how often the ball was in his hands, how much attention he received, and his tendency to get called for offensive fouls, is truly a marvel.

Antetokounmpo also made a very healthy 3-of-8 from long-range — his supposed area of weakness. And still, he left a handful of easy points behind as he went just 13-of-19 at the free throw line — his real area of weakness. Either way, even when Antetokounmpo scores 50 points on 17-of-31 shooting, it’s still possible to spot the ways he can continue to improve upon it moving forward.

Also impossible to ignore is the fact that Antetokounmpo went close to mirroring his per game averages for the season with his second half alone. After the interval, Giannis poured in a ridiculous 32 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists, and was lights out as he went 10-of-18 from the field, 3-of-4 from deep, and 9-of-10 from the line.

There will be some who will undoubtedly look to take away from this performance somewhat by noting that it came against a Jazz team that was without two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. The truth, though, is that Gobert or no Gobert, the Jazz haven’t had any answers for Antetokounmpo on an individual basis for a number of years.

On the subject of looking back at gaudy stat-lines from NBA seasons past, we get to the detail that truly illustrates just how special Antetokounmpo’s 50-point salvo was. As first highlighted by Fastbreak Breakfast, Antetokounmpo’s heroics on Monday saw him join the most elite of NBA company.

Only once prior to Monday night had a player achieved a 50-point, 10-rebound, five-assist, zero turnover showing, with that being when an almost 27-year-old Michael Jordan went for 54 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists against the Cavaliers in November 1989.

Reminder: Antetokounmpo doesn’t even turn 25 for another 10 days.

At this point, it seems inevitable that even better performances than this still lie ahead for Antetokounmpo, and yet that’s no reason to let these games pass by without recognizing their historic nature in the moment.

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Calling Giannis a generational player doesn’t even do him justice any more. From Sepolia, Athens to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Giannis has already left an indelible mark on the history of the NBA. And he’s still only getting started.