Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo awaits as Grizzlies visit
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a spectator more than he would like over the past two weeks, but it also has given him a new perspective.
The two-time reigning MVP will be back on the floor for the second straight game following a left-knee injury when the Bucks host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.
Antetokounmpo returned from a six-game absence to score 15 points in 25 minutes in Thursday’s 120-109 road win over the Atlanta Hawks. Then he expressed amazement over what he witnessed while stationed on the bench.
“Watching this team play six games, I realize this team is really, really good,” Antetokounmpo said. “I just want to help as much as I can.”
The victory over Atlanta completed a three-game trip in which Milwaukee won by an average of 24.3 points.
The Bucks went 3-3 without Antetokounmpo, who found himself frustrated with the timing of his injury.
He matched his season best of 47 points on 18-of-21 shooting from the floor in a 127-109 trouncing of the Portland Trail Blazers on April 2. Then he sat out the next night against the Sacramento Kings as the knee flared up.
Then he sat again … and continued to sit as his frustration grew.
“I was like OK, you want me to sit out a game, I’ll sit out a game,” Antetokounmpo told reporters. “But then it was a second game and third game and the fourth game, and then you start getting frustrated. Then the Minnesota game (on Wednesday), I was ready to play, you know? But at the end of the day they’re going to make the decision best for my health and I just got to listen.
“And there’s going to be sometimes I’m going to want to play and I’m not going to be allowed to play. But at the end of the day, I know they want what was best for me, and I’m mature about that, so I’ve got to listen.”
Antetokounmpo was one of seven Milwaukee players to score in double digits against the Hawks. Jrue Holiday led the attack with 23 points and seven assists.
Holiday was the hero of the first meeting against the Grizzlies as he hit a baseline jumper with two seconds left to give the Bucks a 112-111 win in Memphis on March 4.
Ja Morant had 35 points for the Grizzlies, while Dillon Brooks added 23.
Brooks had the hot hand on Friday as he scored a season-best 32 points in a 126-115 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Brooks was 12-of-19 from the field to help Memphis prevail in the opener of a seven-game trip.
“This was an important game to have,” Brooks said. “Start on the right tone and gain momentum on this long road trip.”
The win was much needed after the Grizzlies let a victory escape their grasp on Wednesday when Luka Doncic hit a miraculous last-second 3-pointer to give the Dallas Mavericks a 114-113 victory.
Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins wasn’t thrilled with the first half on Friday, but his club scored 69 second-half points.
“It was a good test for us,” Jenkins said. “We raised our level in the second half and they responded. I’m proud of the guys.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and seven rebounds as his franchise-record streak of 16 straight double-doubles ended.
–Field Level Media