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Giannis MVP Watch: Bucks vs. Lakers

It should be a crime what Antetokounmpo did to Lonzo Ball

If you’re new to this ongoing series, read our previous entries about Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo’s MVP candidacy (Part I, Part II).

What did he do?

33 points, 15 rebounds and 3 assists on 63.2 percent shooting in a 98-90 win over the visiting Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

While Antetokounmpo is still taking the 20 to 24 shots per game he was putting up before Eric Bledsoe joined the team last week, the point forward looks more relaxed in the offense since the former Phoenix Suns guard’s arrival, forcing fewer tough shots because he’s not going at it alone anymore. Antetokounmpo was getting buckets off pick-and-rolls, fast breaks and playing bully ball deep in the paint like he has been all season. With a new playmaker on the team, the game seems to look that much easier for Antetokounmpo, which is a nightmare for the rest of the league.

Did he dunk on someone?

Welcome to the NBA, Lonzo Ball. While the eldest Ball son became the youngest player in league history to collect a triple-double (19 points, 12 rebounds, 13 assists), Antetokounmpo made Ball’s night memorable for a completely different reason. Bucks center John Henson missed a layup late in the fourth quarter, and Ball went up for what he thought would be another run-of-the-mill rebound. Wrong. Antetokounmpo came around a Lakers defender, elevated at the same time as Ball, two-hand slammed it right in the face of the Lakers rookie and then hung on the rim to further disrespect him. It should be a crime what he did to that young man.

Did he make a crazy play?

There’s no one way to guard Antetokounmpo. Play him too close and he has the handles to get around you or the muscle to back you down into the paint. Play him too loose and “Swole Giannis” comes at you like a freight train that’s intentionally bled its brakes (like in the movie Money Train, which I just watched this weekend). Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson tried the former, and, well, he quickly learned he messed up. Clarkson played Antetokounmpo close near the perimeter, so Antetokounmpo gave the impression that he was going to back the smaller guard down into the post. But in the matter of a nanosecond, Antetokounmpo hit a nasty spin move and one-hand slammed it, with Lakers forward Julius Randle choosing to keep his life and not join Ball on a poster.

What was his MVP moment?

Antetokounmpo was just in control of the game at all times. With his team having dropped four games in a row after a monstrous start to the season, Antetokounmpo has righted the ship the past two games, both ending in victories. The Bucks were just better when he was on the court Saturday, evidenced by his plus-13 rating while on the court, the only positive plus-minus among both team’s starters other than Ball. Antetokounmpo’s dunk over Ball with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter was the nail in the coffin of any possible Lakers comeback, and even the Bucks’ social media team joined in on the pettiness.

Martenzie is a senior researcher for The Undefeated. His favorite cinematic moment is when Django said "Y'all want to see somethin?"