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Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Antetokounmpo Scores Career-High 55 Points, Logs Third Straight 40-10-5 Game

Giannis Antetokounmpo's 55 point performance last night while leading Milwaukee to a 123-113 win over Washington not only established a new single game career-high but is also his third straight game with at least 40 points, at least 10 rebounds, and at least five assists. Antetokounmpo shot 20-33 from the field and 15-16 from the free throw line while also grabbing 10 rebounds and passing for a game-high seven assists. Antekounmpo is just the third Milwaukee Buck to have three straight 40 point games, joining Flynn Robinson (February 1969), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (February 1972). Abdul-Jabbar averaged 39.3 ppg, 15.6 rpg, and 5.8 apg in February 1972 en route to winning his second consecutive scoring title with a career-high 34.8 ppg average.

Only three players other than Antetokounmpo have had three straight 40-10-5 games: Elgin Baylor (1961 and 1963), Wilt Chamberlain (1963), and Russell Westbrook (2016). We should not just glide past those names. Here are Baylor's numbers during his 1961 streak:

1) 50 points (17-34 FG, 16-22 FT), 20 rebounds, seven assists as his L.A. Lakers defeated the Syracuse Nationals 131-120 on December 4, 1961.

2) 45 points (15-39 FG, 15-18 FT), 25 rebounds, eight assists as his L.A. Lakers defeated the Syracuse Nationals 125-120 on December 5, 1961.

3) 47 points (17-43 FG, 13-22 FT), 23 rebounds, eight assists as his L.A. Lakers defeated the Syracuse Nationals 123-121 on December 6, 1961.

4) 63 points (23-55 FG, 17-24 FT), 31 rebounds, seven assists as his L.A. Lakers defeated the Philadelphia Warriors 151-147 on December 8, 1961.

During that four game stretch, Baylor averaged 51.3 ppg, 24.8 rpg, and 7.5 apg while shooting .421 from the field and .709 from the free throw line. "Stat gurus" may grumble about Baylor's shooting percentages, but his productivity was off the charts and his team won all four games. He did not "merely" post 40-10-5, but he posted at least 45-20-7 in each of those four games!

It is also worth emphasizing that Baylor's Lakers played games on three straight days and they played four games in a five day period. No load management back then! The fourth game is notable because Wilt Chamberlain scored 78 points and grabbed 43 rebounds in a losing effort, one of a record six times that Chamberlain scored at least 70 points in a game.

Antetokounmpo is on pace to average more than 30 ppg, more than 10 rpg, and more than 5 apg while also shooting better than .500 from the field; the only other players to post such statistics are Wilt Chamberlain (twice), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The Bucks have struggled recently, losing four of their previous five games and six of their previous 10 games prior to beating the Wizards. The main problem has been injuries/illnesses: Antetokounmpo did not play in Sunday's loss to the Wizards because of left knee soreness, Khris Middleton has not played since December 15 because of a right knee injury, and Jrue Holiday missed three games because of a non-COVID illness before logging just 19 minutes last night versus the Wizards.

If the Bucks can get healthy (and stay healthy), then they will be very difficult to beat in a seven game playoff series, particularly if Antetokounmpo keeps playing at a historically great level.

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:32 PM



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