Giannis Downplays MVP Talk After Bucks Beat James Harden, Rockets

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2019

MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 07:  Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives around James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets during a game at the Bradley Center on March 7, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo could have touted himself as an MVP candidate after leading his team to a 116-109 road victory over James Harden's Houston Rockets on Wednesday, but he took a more cautious approach.

"To be honest with you, all I care about right now is getting better, helping my team win," Antetokounmpo said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. "And [becoming the league's best player is] going to take care of itself. I know that one day it might happen. I don't know if I'm there yet, but I'm going to do whatever it takes to get there, because that's what I want to be."

His Bucks have done plenty of winning, moving to 29-11 as the top seed in the Eastern Conference with the victory.

Antetokounmpo was dominant with 27 points, 21 rebounds and five assists in the showdown with reigning MVP Harden, who boosted his own chances at winning the award again with 42 points, 11 boards and six assists.

Harden has now scored more than 30 points in 14 straight games and surpassed 40 eight times during that span.

However, he is no runaway in the MVP race thanks largely to Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 26.6 points, 12.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game while playing impressive defense. Opponents are shooting 5.7 percent worse than their normal averages when he defends them, per NBA.com.

The head-to-head clash between Antetokounmpo and Harden was under the spotlight Wednesday, but team success is clearly a priority right now.

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