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Giannis MVP Watch: Bucks vs. Kings

There’s nothing like a little foul language to right the ship

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

What did he do?

32 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and 1 threat of violence on 68.8 percent shooting in a 112-87 win at the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

Guess who’s back, back again? Greeky’s back, tell a friend! Despite averaging nearly 25 points and 13 rebounds the past three games in which he played, Antetokounmpo had not been the MVP front-runner he was through the first two weeks of the season. In three losses to the Dallas Mavericks, Washington Wizards and Utah Jazz since Nov. 18, Antetokounmpo had a negative plus-minus in each game and was shooting just 42 percent from the field. Apparently, all it took to right the ship was a little foul language. During the Bucks’ awful 121-108 loss to the Jazz on Nov. 25, Antetokounmpo was caught on camera warning Milwaukee assistant coach Sean Sweeney, “I’ll f— you up.” And that he did … to the Kings.

Did he dunk on someone?

No, but only because he was too busy getting buckets to worry about embarrassing yet another highly regarded rookie guard. (Hi, Lonzo Ball.) In the first quarter, Antetokounmpo was getting basket after basket due to Sacramento turnovers and poor transition defense, including halfway through the period when a Zach Randolph pass was picked off and Antetokounmpo sprinted past every Kings defender to the other side of the court, caught a pass at the free-throw line and cocked it back for a slam like LeBron James despite not dribbling the ball once. Antetokounmpo’s the captain now.

Did he make a crazy play?

As I said in Part III, there’s no one way to defend Antetokounmpo, and if you happen to make the incorrect choice of giving him space or playing him close, he’ll make you look foolish either way. Insert: Randolph. The 16-year forward used to be a regular 20-20 guy back in his Trail Blazers days, but on Tuesday night he was just another statistic. Coming off a pick-and-roll, Antetokounmpo rolled to the paint, where the 250-pound Randolph was waiting for him. Antetokounmpo looked like he was about to play himself and try to back down the bigger defender, but then he quickly spun around Randolph, whom you could see saying to himself, “I’m too old for this s—,” and laid it in for an easy basket.

What was his MVP moment?

Who would’ve thought that telling one of your coaches you’ll give them these hands would inspire better play? Antetokounmpo is no longer the shy, lanky teenager with the cute “mean mug” from his first few years in the league. He’s a grown, “Stay Ready All-Star” with a real mean streak, similar to Jim Carrey’s character in Me, Myself & Irene. Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 32 points (his first 30-point game since Nov. 11) in just 26 minutes, sitting out the entire fourth quarter. The Bucks were losers in three of their last four games, and Antetokounmpo said “no more” and put his team on his back for a statement victory.

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