LOS ANGELES – Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a season-best 49 points on his return from injury as the Milwaukee Bucks overcame Kevin Durant’s 42-point performance to beat the Brooklyn Nets 117-114 on Sunday.
Two-time defending reigning Antetokounmpo, NBA’s most valuable player, who had dealt with a sprained right ankle, dominated Durant in the Eastern Conference clash between the two best-performing teams in the league.
Antetokounmpo finished just three points off his career record, which he set two years ago against Philadelphia.
Antetokounmpo congratulated his teammates on the victory, saying they need to tighten up defensively against the highscoring Nets.
“We just trusted each other and kept playing hard and moving the ball,” said Antetokounmpo, who showed no signs of an ankle injury. “They have some really good players so we had to lock in, trust us on defense and execute on offense.”
Antetokounmpo shot 21 of 36 from the ground and added eight rebounds while teammate Khris Middleton finished with a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Durant scored 42 points and caught 10 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-led Nets, who are trying to hold onto the top spot on the home stretch of the regular season.
Antetokounmpo said he didn’t want to get into a goal duel with Durant and just tried to focus on the strengths of his game.
“KD is one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game,” said Antetokounmpo. “If you try to go back and forth with him he will score 70. I was able to slow down and reach my places. I continued to be aggressive. “
The two teams play again Tuesday night in Milwaukee in a rivalry many are seeing as a playoff preview.
Kyrie Irving has 20 points and Landry Shamet has 17 for the Nets, who have won four of their last six games.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download from 4 a.m. and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For comments, complaints or inquiries, contact us.