Showdown of the Titans at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee this morning. Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. LeBron James. Two MVPs (both consecutive, both in recent years) against four. He won the second, with some Lakers who do not slow down on the road: 8 victories in 8 games away from Staples Center to remain the best team in the NBA with a wonderful balance of 12 wins in 16 games. Only the Clippers (11-4) and Philadelphia 76ers (10-5) can follow in the footsteps of a reigning champion who has yet to find a rival in this NBA start.
Neither does LeBron James, who at 36 is still unstoppable. The sample, the game against these Bucks, who from the end of the second quarter were in tow because of their bad percentage from the perimeter: 9 out of 28 (32.1%). The Lakers, by contrast, were magnificent with 19 hits of 37 attempts. Above 50%. Nothing bad. The King, as we said, had his best performance of the course: 34 points with a 6 of 10 from the triple, 6 rebounds and 8 assists. Top score and hit of three of the season. Also in field shots (35) and hit (19). Numbers that allowed the Bucks and the Greek to be defeated, whom he has already beaten 16 of the 21 times they have faced each other.
LeBron James performance
It is the second best record of wins of an MVP against another in history (ESPN Stats): 76.2% of victories. Just like Bill Russell against Willis Reed. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the leader with 78.3% against Hakeem Olajuwon. It was a vindication for last season’s award, which went to the Greek and not to James. The forward believed he deserved it after a great year in which he returned the Lakers to the top of the Western Conference after more than five years of darkness, almost gloomy.
Antetokounmpo, 25 points
He denies that claim: “It has never been about individual (honors). It’s about the team’s successes. That’s all that matters… I just want to play well and help our team. That’s all, “he said at the end of a confrontation where Antetokounmpo, despite his 25 points and 12 rebounds, did not mark territory (9 losses) and the Bucks paid it. Milwaukee, 9 wins and 6 losses, is third in the Eastern Conference behind the Sixers and the Celtics… and waiting to see the growth (because there will be) of the Brooklyn Nets with their new Big Three. Therefore, this morning’s game could have been a great example of the team’s capabilities. Almost a claim. Failure.
The Bucks began matching the Los Angeles rhythm in the first quarter (33-29) and in the second… until the last five and a half minutes, when a 5-20 run showed the power of the Lakers (57-63 at halftime). There, the figure of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope emerged. The guard began to sharpen his aim from the outside and closed with a 7 of 10 for 23 final points. At dawn of the third period, the Lakers stretched the differences over ten. Anthony Davis contributed breadcrumbs (18 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists), while Marc Gasol was the beacon at the top of the light bulb (3 points and 2 basket passes). The Californian whiplash responded Middleton (20), Holiday (22) and Antetokounmpo to bring their team closer to just two points (102-100, minute 45). A mirage: three triples in a row (Pope, Caruso and LeBron) gave the final blow to Milwaukee.