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Zion Williamson Talks 1st Career Matchup with Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 4: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks plays defense against Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans on February 4, 2020 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Zion Williamson got his first taste of what it's like to square off with Giannis Antetokounmpo on Tuesday night when the Milwaukee Bucks knocked off the New Orleans Pelicans 120-108 at the Smoothie King Center. 

Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and drew praise from the Pelicans star rookie for his performance. 

"I mean, he's a former MVP," Williamson said after the game, per ESPN's Andrew Lopez. "It's like going up against any great player. Do as much as you can to slow him down. ... I mean, he's his own player; he brings his own style to the game. That's why he's Giannis."

Williamson's counting stats were solid, with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 32 minutes, but he had the worst shooting game of his young career against the Bucks defense (5-of-19). 

"I think we put a lot of guys, a lot of different looks to him," Antetokounmpo said of Milwaukee's defensive approach against Williamson. "I was guarding him, Brook was guarding him, Robin [Lopez] was guarding him, Pat [Connaughton] was guarding him. Just tried to make him guess, just tried to make it as tough as possible."

There was one near-highlight-reel moment in the second quarter for Williamson when he drove to the basket and attempted a layup over Antetokounmpo, but the reigning NBA MVP was able to swat the ball away and knocked the rookie sensation to the floor. 

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Even though the first matchup featuring NBA's best young stars didn't turn into a great duel, Williamson and Antetokounmpo are so talented that their head-to-head showdowns will likely be more competitive in the future.