Giannis Antetokounmpo showed the rest of the NBA what making the leap looks like when he erupted for a career-high 44 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 113-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday night.
Antetokounmpo—who also recorded eight rebounds, four assists and two steals—was particularly prolific in the fourth quarter, when he poured in 17 points and stitched together one of the most impressive sequences of his career to seal the win.
With 12 seconds remaining and the Bucks trailing by one, Antetokounmpo poked the ball away from Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum, raced the other way and finished with authority from the dotted circle to put Milwaukee in front.
As if that weren't impressive enough, Antetokounmpo also rotated down into the paint on the ensuing defensive possession and denied a potential go-ahead layup from Jusuf Nurkic to seal the result in Milwaukee's favor.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Antetokounmpo said he decided to dedicate the performance to his father, Charles, who died of a heart attack before the start of the regular season:
The Bucks' official Twitter account also relayed a photo of the game ball in Giannis' locker that was inscribed with a note to his dad:
Now three games into the 2017-18 season, Antetokounmpo is averaging 38.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals on 67.2 percent shooting from the field.
"Seventy-nine more," he told reporters after the win, according to the Associated Press (via Fox Sports). "This is just the beginning."
The Bucks will return to the floor Monday evening when they host the Charlotte Hornets in search of back-to-back victories.