Giannis Antetokounmpo Drops 49, Outduels Kevin Durant as Bucks Hold Off Nets

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks in front of Brooklyn Nets' DeAndre Jordan during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, May 2, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant are two of the very best talents the NBA has to offer. And boy, did they remind everyone of that fact Sunday.  

The two players traded buckets in a crucial matchup for postseason seeding in the Eastern Conference, each exceeding 40 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 117-114 win over the Brooklyn Nets. 

Chris Herring @Herring_NBA

This Giannis/KD duel is wild


"KD's one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game ... you go back and forth with a guy like that, he's gonna score 50, 70." Giannis tips his cap to KD after an epic duel https://t.co/tbnpbfBpQ4

Durant had a chance to force overtime with a three-point attempt at the buzzer but was unable to sink the clutch shot.

Seriously, this was a wild, wild game.


Blake got UP for this putback. 😳 @BrooklynNets 107 @Bucks 113 3:30 left on ABC https://t.co/mohAn7kOv6

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

This whole sequence is WILD. https://t.co/delOV17Mzh

The result kept the Nets (43-22) tops in the East and the Bucks (40-24) 2.5 games behind them. The Philadelphia 76ers (42-21) moved atop the standings with Brooklyn's loss, as they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.  

So the top seed is going to come down to the wire. With a crucial win Sunday, Milwaukee improved its own odds of securing that berth. 

And if these teams ultimately meet in the playoffs, well, you can bet it's going to be fun. 


Key Stats

Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL: 49 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks

Khris Middleton, MIL: 26 points, 11 rebounds

Jrue Holiday, MIL: 18 points

Kevin Durant, BKN: 42 points, 10 rebounds

Kyrie Irving, BKN: 20 points (8-of-21 from the field), seven rebounds, six assists

Landry Shamet, BKN: 17 points


Are We Sure Giannis Isn't the MVP?

The Greek Freak was awesome Sunday, in large part because he found his stroke from the perimeter (4-of-8 from three). Then again, he was pretty good from just about every spot on the floor.

ESPN @espn

GIANNIS ON KD 💥 https://t.co/njwStKQ3iR

ESPN @espn

Giannis scored the first 16 points of the 3rd quarter for the Bucks by himself 🤯 https://t.co/ZOc8KrJmK1

Kendrick Perkins @KendrickPerkins

The Nets are just wrong for leaving Jordan on a Island like that against Giannis! I mean damn he’s cooking that man right now...show some type of help! God Bless America!!!

ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 49 points vs the Nets today, his 3rd-most in a game in his career. 35 of his 49 points were with DeAndre Jordan as his primary defender. https://t.co/H25TDmJRfC

Much of the MVP conversation this season has centered on big men Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, with Stephen Curry getting some love as well, and for good reason. They've been spectacular. It would be hard to complain about any of those choices. 

But should Giannis be getting more love? Is there a bit of a voter fatigue because he's the back-to-back winner? 

Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, he looked like an MVP on Sunday, carrying the Bucks in a close and extremely important game. 


Kevin Durant, Human Bucket

In a game where Irving had his struggles, dealing with the suffocating defense of Jrue Holiday, Durant stepped up in a big way. The man just plays beautiful basketball. 


P.J. Tucker 🗣️ to KD about guarding KD! 📺: ABC https://t.co/4U78FXUZFj

Seriously, how do you stop this?


The triple. The tough driving bucket. KD getting it done on ABC. https://t.co/LMANfzz4KV


Good luck defending this. https://t.co/8mg2A9eb2b

Rob Perez @WorldWideWob

every time KD scores a ridiculous bucket on someone playing perfect defense, i hear Patrick Beverley & Lou Williams in the back of my head saying “he’s Kevin Durant...i promise you we tried.”

It's absurd to think that the Nets will hit teams with Durant, Irving and James Harden come the postseason, a trio that has rarely been healthy enough to play together this season. Which of that trio gets an opponent's best defender?

And honestly, does it even matter? Because can anybody actually stop Durant? When he gets going like he did Sunday, it sure doesn't seem like it. 


What's Next?

These teams meet again in another game with huge postseason implications Tuesday night in Milwaukee at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.