Giannis Antetokounmpo on Sunday scored a season-high 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.
Two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo, who had been dealing with a sprained right ankle, outdueled Durant in the Eastern Conference clash between the two highest-scoring teams in the league.
Antetokounmpo finished just three points short of his career high, which he set two years ago against Philadelphia.
“Tonight that picture I created, that’s who I want to be moving forward,” Antetokounmpo said. “It doesn’t matter if I score 49 points. I don’t care about that. What I care about is how I slowed down, how I was able to find my teammates. How if I missed one, missed a second one, missed a third one, and still be able to come down and shoot another one. This is what I believe I can be.”
Antetokounmpo shot 21 of 36 from the floor and added eight rebounds, while Khris Middleton finished with a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Durant scored 42 and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-leading Nets, who are trying to hang onto first place.
Antetokounmpo said he did not want to get into a scoring duel with Durant and just tried to focus on his strengths.
“K.D. is one of the greatest scorers ever to play the game,” Antetokounmpo said. “If you try to go back and forth with him, he’s going to score 70. I was able to slow down and get to my spots. I kept being aggressive.”
Elsewhere, the Raptors overcame the struggling Lakers 121-114, the Trail Blazers tamed the Celtics 129-119, the 76ers edged the Spurs 113-111, the Knicks downed the Rockets 122-97, the Heat beat the Hornets 121-111, the Kings defeated the Mavericks 111-99 and the Suns eclipsed the Thunder 123-120.
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