Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 54 aspects lead Bucks over fading Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard knocks the ball from Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo at some point soon of the major half of of an NBA basketball recreation Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Milwaukee. (AP Portray/Morry Reduce)

Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard knocks the ball from Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo at some point soon of the major half of on Thursday in Milwaukee. (Morry Reduce / Associated Press)

The Buck didn’t kill on the three-point line.

He didn’t kill on the free-throw line, either.

Over and over another time, Giannis Antetokounmpo archaic his dribble to bulldoze thru, or previous, Clippers defenders and into the paint, his size and 54 aspects overcoming each and each obstacle Thursday in a 106-105 Milwaukee comeback — including what had as soon as been a 21-point Clippers lead.

Built just like the Parthenon and given free rein to bring the ball upcourt, the higher to catch a head of steam for one in every of his drives, Antetokounmpo looked unstoppable when it mattered, his 20 aspects outscoring the total Clippers blended within the fourth quarter, 20-18.

“We knew Greek used to be going to realize,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said, “I didn’t know he used to be going to realize 54.”

But the Clippers didn’t fall to 29-26 and narrowly missed a uncommon opportunity to beat a a success team due to the Antetokounmpo alone. Below duress by the protection of Bucks guards Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews, who eschewed switches in state to stick with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers’ offense shot excellent eight-for-25 within the fourth quarter and didn’t acquire at all within the final 3 minutes, 51 seconds, an eerily the same consequence to the final time Leonard and George confronted the Bucks here two years within the past and the offense another time faltered when isolation plays failed to generate aspects within the final minutes.

After a occupation-excessive 11 consecutive video games with out a longer much less than 24 aspects, Leonard missed two photos within the recreation’s closing 18 seconds with an opportunity to scheme end.

Leonard first tried engaged on Holiday, the newly named All-Neatly-known person reserve, nevertheless his fadeaway jumper misfired. Sooner than the Clippers would possibly possibly perhaps abominable, Antetokounmpo threw the ball out of bounds. Afforded one other likelihood, Leonard another time managed the ball one on one. He tried environment apart against Matthews, nevertheless used to be cornered and his jump shot another time missed as four teammates watched on the court’s other aspect as time expired.

“Hundreds of easy photos we missed,” Leonard said. “Give credit to them, they conducted amazing protection.”

Leonard made seven of his 26 photos, shooting one for eight within the fourth quarter, for 17 aspects. George, named an All-Neatly-known person reserve earlier than tipoff, had 16 aspects on six-of-16 shooting, nevertheless made one in every of his five photos within the final quarter. Norman Powell, within the period in-between, didn’t take a shot within the final 4:17 no matter a team-excessive 26 aspects.

“I informed [Leonard], I informed P, I mean, the photos he’s missing, these are the ones that he work on,” Powell said. “I’ve considered him earn these lots of times, that’s why I’m no longer in actuality tripping if I safe the ball or no longer, man.

“… I’ve considered him earn that from the corner fading, midrange to ship us to the [2019 Eastern Conference] finals. You’ve excellent bought to are residing and die with these issues like that nevertheless these guys know they’re going to regulate subsequent time they’re in that utter, I mediate it’s going to be a varied consequence.”

Clippers' Norman Powell drives between Milwaukee Bucks' Jevon Carter and Giannis Antetokounmpo at some point soon of the 2d half of.

Clippers’ Norman Powell drives between Milwaukee Bucks’ Jevon Carter and Giannis Antetokounmpo at some point soon of the 2d half of on Thursday in Milwaukee. (Morry Reduce / Associated Press)

Lue additionally said he used to be gorgeous with the photos taken dreary because when Milwaukee (35-17) didn’t double-team the team’s stars, it didn’t earn a gap for the ball to swing to Powell on the different aspect, allowing him to assault his defender closing out.

“Kawhi, I admire his matchup each and each evening,” Lue said. “If we are able to post Kawhi, safe him to his spots, I admire that.”

Victorious two days earlier when overcoming a 19-point deficit, the Clippers led by 15 within the major quarter by stopping Antetokounmpo’s first makes an attempt to safe to the rim, and 21 within the third quarter. When Milwaukee pulled ineffective middle Brook Lopez — the Bucks had been outscored by 32 aspects in his 23 minutes — and bought Holiday going offensively within the third quarter after Holiday’s one-for-9 shooting originate, the recreation tilted towards Milwaukee and Antetokounmpo, a most functional participant of the common season and NBA Finals, kept working downhill towards the rim.

Of his 54 aspects, 30 had been scored within the paint, on 65% shooting. Listless wretchedness on initiating middle Ivica Zubac compelled the Clippers — who don’t have a backup huge man in their rotation, one week earlier than the alternate deadline — correct into a miniature lineup pretty than allowing the Clippers to replicate their 7-footer’s minutes with Antetokounmpo’s. Zubac, handed the hardest assignment of the evening to blunt Antetokounmpo’s brute-force offense, fouled out with 1:47 final.

“We did what we had been supposed to,” George said, “the total technique up unless the final couple minutes.”

But this recreation revealed as a lot about the chess match between two title contenders as it did about the technique the Clippers interrogate their rotation one week earlier than the alternate deadline.

Lue has said he prefers a 9-man rotation. With Marcus Morris Sr. returning to the initiating lineup after a four-recreation absence due to the a bruised rib, guard Luke Kennard went relief to the bench and didn’t play in a coach’s decision linked to Lue’s avoidance of three-guard lineups he as soon as archaic to characteristic off the bench. In most modern weeks, he has acknowledged the defensive shortcomings of playing three miniature reserve guards collectively is untenable, and so whereas Powell and Reggie Jackson saw time against the Bucks, Kennard watched as Lue’s 9-man rotation went as deep as Robert Covington, the 6-foot-8 forward. But even Covington conducted most efficient six minutes, including none within the 2d half of.

Unruffled unanswered is John Wall’s role engrossing forward, upon his return to hurry. Wall has missed the final 11 video games with an belly destroy and said Thursday morning’s shootaround used to be the major time he’d conducted paunchy-court for the reason that Jan. 13 destroy; Wall said he doesn’t have a target return date. In his absence Jackson has reestablished his tag as a guard Lue trusts in closing video games, which he did Thursday moreover to two days earlier than in Chicago.

This memoir first of all looked in Los Angeles Times.

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