On Wednesday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 47 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 109-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Last season’s Finals MVP was at his dazzling best, hitting 18-of-23 from the field for a season-high 42 points to help the reigning NBA champions get back on track after back-to-back losses last weekend.
The Bucks’ slow start to the season was compounded by road losses to the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks, but victory over the Lakers lifts them to 7-8 with a four-game home stand at Fiserv Forum to come.
Antetokounmpo, who also had nine rebounds and three assists, scored 28 points in the first half to help his team take an 11-point lead at halftime over a team still missing four-time MVP LeBron James, who the Lakers (8-8) are hoping will return for Friday’s game against the Celtics.
The Bucks, on the other hand, were boosted by the long-awaited return of two-time All-Star Khris Middleton, who marked his homecoming with 16 points, five rebounds, six assists, and a piece of franchise history after missing eight games due to a positive Covid-19 test.
With two crucial three-pointers in the fourth quarter, the 30-year-old tied Ray Allen for the most three-pointers in Bucks history (1,051).
After the game, the ‘Greek Freak,’ who clinched the victory with two free throws in the final seconds, greeted Middleton’s return with open arms.
“Feels good to have him back,” Antetokounmpo told reporters.
“Just having him out there, he draws a lot of attention. People gotta guard him and he’s gonna make the right play. He definitely helped the team — hit two back-to-back threes for us, gave us momentum, made great plays down the stretch defensively, offensively.
“This is a good opportunity now that Khris is back for us to start getting back on track. Start building some games right here. We’ll see. I cannot predict the future but we’re in a good place right now.”