Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes first player with consecutive 40-20-5 games since Wilt Chamberlain

MILWAUKEE —Long after becoming the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to record consecutive games of 40 points, 20 rebounds and 5 assists, Giannis Antetokounmpo waited for the small group of reporters waiting in the Milwaukee Bucks locker room on Friday night to gather around him. , and then added to his growing collection of risque jokes.

“I need a drink,” Antetokounmpo said, before mentioning another activity the Big Dipper was known to enjoy quite frequently. “That’s a Wilt answer, huh?”

A Wilt response worthy of a Wilt performance. Antetokounmpo finished with 43 points, 20 rebounds and five assists on 14 of 23 from the field and 14 of 21 from the free throw line in the Bucks’ 123-114 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, a result that put ending their four-game losing streak. .

“That’s what we talked about,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. His strength, his determination, his will, attack, attack, attack… that’s what he’s made for.”

Even more than usual, the Bucks have become a one-man show in recent games due to the absence of Khris Middleton (knee) and Jrue Holiday (illness). Against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, Antetokounmpo went for 45 points, 22 rebounds and seven assists, a ridiculous line that was overshadowed by his late mistakes in regulation and overtime that led to the team’s eventual loss. Against Wolves, he refused to let such a performance pass.

In the process, he joined a legendary company. Besides Antetokounmpo and Chamberlain, the only other player in NBA history to go 40-20-5 back-to-back games is Elgin Baylor, who did it four times in a row during the 1961 season. picture assists, Antetokounmpo became the first player since Moses Malone in 1982 to go 40–20 in consecutive games.

“It’s a big compliment to be surrounded by these guys and always a great feeling to be able to go out there and help the team in any way possible to get the win,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m proud of this team. As a leader I just try to do everything I can, I try to push myself to the limit. I just want to win games. I feel much better when you can win and go home and sleep.”

Those wins haven’t come often enough for a Bucks team that’s used to piling them in bunches. Despite a phenomenal December from Antetokounmpo, in which he averaged 33.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 53.2% shooting, the Bucks were just 8-7 and are now tied with the surging Brooklyn Nets for second place in the Eastern Conference at 23-12.

Antetokounmpo’s one-man act is electrifying, but he needs help to win games consistently. Getting Middleton and Holiday back to good health is essential, but the long-awaited debut of Joe Ingles, who missed the first 29 games returning from a torn ACL, will be an underrated boost. Ingles had his best game as a Buck on Friday, delivering 14 points and 10 assists off the bench.

“He carries such a load for us,” Ingles said of Antetokounmpo. “I think for us as a team we have to help him with that and I think tonight was kind of a step up to help him – we trust him when he has the ball and vice versa, like he trusts us when he has the ball, so that we make shots and plays.”

Helping out a two-time MVP is a big responsibility, but it’s a responsibility Ingles loves more than trying to slow him down.

“It’s nice to run to the corner in transition waiting to shoot a 3 instead of looking him in the eye and getting crushed.”

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