Giannis Anteotokounmpo's 24-point triple-double led the Milwaukee Bucks to a 137-129 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday at Fiserv Forum.
Anteotokounmpo earned the triple-double after assisting on a Donte DiVincenzo two-pointer with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter. He finished with 24 points, 19 rebounds and a career-high 15 assists.
ESPN Stats & Info highlighted a few other accolades:
Milwaukee opened up a 37-27 lead after one quarter before taking a 72-58 halftime advantage.
The Blazers stormed back in the second half, however, scoring 40 third-quarter points and cutting the Bucks' lead to 117-115 with 7:35 left in the game following five straight CJ McCollum points. The former Lehigh star posted a game-high 37 points on 15-of-29 shooting (5-of-10 from three-point range).
Milwaukee responded with back-to-back threes, though, and never led by fewer than six points from that moment forward.
Both teams were short-handed.
The Blazers played without leading scorer and four-time All-Star Damian Lillard, who missed his second straight game with back spasms. Per Jamie Hudson of NBC Sports Northwest, Lillard said he's "hopeful" to return Saturday.
Portland also played without center Hassan Whiteside, who missed Thursday's shootaround before sitting the Bucks game with a right hip injury, per Blazers team reporter Casey Holdahl.
Carmelo Anthony, who played in his second game with Portland after signing a non-guaranteed deal, excelled with 18 points on 6-of-15 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists.
Milwaukee is still without All-Star Khris Middleton, who is out with a left thigh contusion.
The 12-3 Bucks broke a first-place tie atop the Eastern Conference with the win. The 5-11 Blazers fell to second-to-last in the West.
Blazers G CJ McCollum: 37 points, 10 assists, 3 blocks
Blazers F Carmelo Anthony: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Blazers F Skai Labissiere: 22 points, 12 rebounds, 5 blocks
Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo: 24 points, 19 rebounds, 15 assists, 3 steals
Bucks G Eric Bledsoe: 30 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds
Bucks G Pat Connaughton: 18 points, 4 rebounds
Giannis Makes His Triple-Double Look Easy
Yes, Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his triple-double against a short-handed Blazers team that entered Thursday 22nd in scoring defense, but it felt as though no NBA team would have had any chance at stopping him Thursday.
Antetokounmpo had a triple-double before the third quarter was halfway over. That's an incredible accomplishment against any team, but he did so while making the game look easy.
Antetokounmpo posted many highlights scoring, passing and defending Thursday, beginning the night with a steal that led to an Eric Bledsoe deuce:
Anthony Tolliver (nor would most other defenders) had no chance on this move and reverse dunk:
Antetokounmpo also ferociously attacked the basket on this dunk to help put the game away:
His passing was simply exceptional, and perhaps no dish was better than this one to Donte DiVincenzo for a breakaway dunk:
Antetokounmpo is looking even better than he did last year, when he won his first MVP. Entering Thursday, his player efficiency rating had risen from 30.9 to 33.1. His win shares/48 minutes have improved, and the same goes for his assist and three-point percentages.
He looks like the NBA's best player once again, to the point where no one blinks when effortless triple-doubles occur.
Melo's Still Got It
Is Carmelo Anthony about to put a team on his back and lead it in scoring every night? Obviously not.
But Anthony showed signs that he can be a player somewhere in the caliber between his final New York Knicks campaign in 2016-17 (22.4 points per game on 43.3 percent shooting) and the ones that didn't work out in Oklahoma City and Houston in 2017 and 2018 (combined 15.9 points on 40.4 percent shooting).
After a year away from the game, the 10-time All-Star needed to shake off some rust in his season debut, scoring 10 points but committing five turnovers in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.
Anthony looked far better against a much tougher opponent Thursday, though, posting his 18 points in 29 minutes and contributing elsewhere with seven boards and four dimes.
Anthony excelled from three-point range, hitting 3-of-5:
The Blazers also did just fine with him on the floor, with Anthony managing a minus-one in an eight-point loss. That's a vast improvement over game one, in which he had a minus-20.
Ultimately, Anthony is a good fit on a Blazers team in need of some tertiary scoring help outside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Yes, he's not going to help much defensively or pour in 20-22 points per night, but Anthony in a defined role as a complementary player should be just fine.
The Bucks will host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Blazers will continue their six-game road trip against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.