Giannis Antetokounmpo Drops 36 as Bucks Top Kawhi Leonard, Clippers in Thriller

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts in the final seconds of the second half of an NBA basketball game against the LA ClippersSunday, Feb. 28, 2021, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 105-100. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Kawhi Leonard vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Two legitimate contenders in the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks. Who would blink first?   

The Clippers did. Led by the Greek Freak, Milwaukee defeated Los Angeles 105-100 in a matchup of two of the league's best teams. 

ESPN @espn



👀 this Giannis DENIAL at the rim! 2-point game with 5 minutes left on ABC. https://t.co/IemG70SFlH


Giannis weaving in for the slam. 😨 @Bucks 70 @LAClippers 68 3Q on ABC https://t.co/m7nmcPYvcL

Milwaukee moved to 21-13 on the season, third in the Eastern Conference with the win, while the Clippers dropped to 24-12, third in the West. 

Sunday did mark the return of Jrue Holiday for the Bucks after he missed 10 games because of the NBA's health and safety protocols. He didn't play a major role, posting just two points off the bench (1-of-5 from the field), though his return in general is a major boost for a Bucks team hunting for the top spot in the East. 


Key Stats

Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL: 36 points, 14 rebounds, five assists

Khris Middleton, MIL: 19 points, eight assists, six rebounds

Brook Lopez, MIL: 10 points

Kawhi Leonard, LAC: 25 points, nine rebounds

Paul George, LAC: 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists

Serge Ibaka, LAC: 15 points, 11 rebounds


Giannis Willed Milwaukee to Victory

At one point in the fourth quarter, the Greek Freak accounted for 10 straight points for the Bucks. He had 17 points in total in the quarter, including a massive dunk with just 10 seconds remaining to put the Bucks up three. 

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

I must say this was one of Giannis most impressive wins!!! He finally took over in the 4th and dominated on both ends of the floor! Carry on...

Wosny Lambre @BigWos

Giannis looked like an mvp today

Andrew Greif @AndrewGreif

Last 4 minutes: Giannis 7, Clippers 0

He wasn't without fault himself, as his perimeter shooting remains an issue. He came into Sunday's game hitting on just 28.6 percent of his threes, and he didn't improve on that percentage against the Clippers (2-of-7 from three). 

Kevin Pelton @kpelton

As hard as Giannis has worked to develop a 3-point shot, I wonder if that's ever going to be a better option when defenses sag off then just going into a handoff to get another player an uncontested 3.

It's hard to knock him too much, given how devastating he is as a scorer around the basket, coupled with the defensive impact he has as a rim protector. Without him, the Bucks get blown out on Sunday. 

Still, teams can dare Giannis to shoot from deep, packing the paint to contest his drives to the hoop. On Sunday, he was good enough to overcome those struggles.


Kawhi Couldn't Find the Touch Late

While Giannis was excellent in the fourth quarter, Leonard couldn't quite keep up.

Leonard was generally excellent on Sunday, leading the Clippers in scoring. He kept them in the game on an afternoon where George struggled (7-of-21 from the field).

ESPN @espn

Kawhi spin and slam 🌀💪 https://t.co/IuFbgU4Sjk

But he couldn't provide the decisive shot down the stretch, a rarity for the generally clutch Kawhi, missing his three attempts in the waning moments. 

Hardwood Paroxysm @HPbasketball

PG and Kawhi 0-3 on go-aheads with 28 seconds to go.

Losing to the Bucks on the road is nothing to lose sleep over. But the Clippers struggles to score in the half court late in the contest will be a storyline for this team if it continues. 


What's Next?

The Clippers face another tough Eastern Conference foe on Tuesday when they travel to Boston to face the struggling Celtics (16-17) at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT. Milwaukee gets another West contender that same day when they travel to Denver to face the Nuggets (18-15) at 9 p.m. ET.