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The back-to-back reigning NBA MVP clocked out early Wednesday night.
In 31 minutes, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was nearly picture-perfect, recording a triple-double through three quarters for the fourth time in his career.
Therefore, he took on a new role as team photographer.
While sitting on the sideline, Antetokounmpo picked up Bucks director of content Nick Monroe’s camera to capture some images of his squad finishing off a 130-110 victory over the visiting Indiana Pacers.
“I was like, it would be a good idea to take some pictures of [my brother and teammate] Thanasis and make him look good,” Antetokounmpo explained. “So I was trying to have fun and be in the moment.”
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However, when Antetokounmpo was in the game, he was the center of attention — particularly as a playmaker.
Antetokounmpo would end the night with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists while going 7-for-8 from the field. During the third quarter, he also passed Quinn Buckner for fourth on the Bucks’ all-time assists list.
“With him having the ability to kick it and find shooters, it almost makes him unstoppable,” said teammate Bryn Forbes, who finished with 20 points and four 3-pointers off the bench.
Antetokounmpo credits maturity for that ability to attack in different ways on any particular night. Against the Pacers, he saw no need to force the issue, as the Bucks connected on 21 3-point field goals, which was the franchise-record fifth time they have made 20 or more 3s in a game this season.
“It’s a new thing,” Antetokounmpo said. “Probably last year and the year before and the year before that, I’ll go into a game and I’m just too stubborn to not be at my best every single night and I try to go through guys. Three guys are guarding me and I still try to get in the paint. I think that this is just a step forward to this leadership.”
Here is a closer look at four moments from Monday’s contest that showed Antetokounmpo’s ability to impact the game without just attacking the paint.
Giannis Antetokounmpo shows off how he can get his teammates involved, as he posts a triple-double of 21 points, 10 assists and 14 rebounds in the Bucks’ rout of the Pacers.
First quarter (8:45 to play)
Antetokounmpo opened the game aggressively, with five points, five rebounds and three assists in the first seven minutes. In this pick-and-roll situation, he spotted teammate Brook Lopez for a wide-open 3-pointer instead of forcing his way into the paint against numerous defenders.
Third quarter (9:15 to play)
Faced with a mismatch of former teammate Malcolm Brogdon defending him in the post, Antetokounmpo took his time to recognize that Pacers center Myles Turner, the league-leading shot-blocker, was coming over to help. Antetokounmpo remained patient and found a cutting Lopez underneath the rim for an open dunk.
“I just think he’s playing really, really unselfishly,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He’s seeing things and making the right read, the right passes, and I just think he’s in a great place, mindset-wise. He’s aggressive and attacking when it’s needed, and he’s finding his teammates and finding opportunities for everybody else when it’s needed. He’s playing really at a high level.”
Third quarter (5:13 to play)
Indiana stayed in zone defense, but Antetokounmpo made a no-look pass to Jrue Holiday underneath the rim to throw the defense off for just a split second, before cutting to the basket for a give-and-go finish with a thunderous, one-handed jam.
“For him, what’s big in my eyes is he needs to stay aggressive. I think when he’s aggressive, it helps all of us out. And not necessarily just aggressive to score the ball, but every time he gets into that paint, he’s getting somebody a wide-open layup or somebody a wide-open 3,” Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo said. “He’s figuring it out; he’s finding guys in their spot that they like. But also, I think he’s doing a good job of mixing it up and attacking the rim and kind of getting downhill and not just letting the defense get on him as fast.”
Third quarter (49.5 seconds to play)
The 10th assist for Antetokounmpo came after grabbing an offensive rebound off a Pat Connaughton miss. Once again, Antetokounmpo threw the defense off by jumping up as if he would attempt a shot, before finding Bobby Portis in the corner for a wide-open 3. Antetokounmpo tied a season high for assists before resting for the final quarter. He scored or assisted on 49 points while the Pacers scored 63 points as a team when he was on the court, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
With new teammates and a new system, this is a completely new approach for Antetokounmpo, one that is still taking some getting used to with the Bucks now 13-8 overall. However, he is committed to sacrificing for the bigger goal down the line of advancing further in the playoffs.
“Last year, I felt like, and the previous year, that in order for us to win, I have to be at my best,” Antetokounmpo said. “I have to get 30, 35 … 25, 20 and 10 or whatever the case might be. Be everywhere; do everything. But now, I think our team is a great team; and this year, if my team needs me to pass the ball, I’ve got to pass the ball.”
“Next year might be different,” he added. “The team might need me to go crazy every single night, but I think that’s being mature. Obviously, I’m still young. I’m 26, but 26 is older than 25 and 24, and I kind of like it. I kind of like being this way. I kind of like being in a good place, making the right play and just seeing my teammates having fun. But at the end of the day, always, we’ve got to win the game. I’m here to win games; I’m not just here to mess around and all that.”
Source by www.espn.com