ESPN News Services
Nov 17, 2023, 05:41 PM ET
Giannis Antetokounmpo made a triumphant return from a one-game absence on Friday night, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a dominant 130-99 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
In his 28 minutes on the court, Antetokounmpo showcased his skills with 16 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds. His impressive performance contributed to the Bucks’ third consecutive win, keeping them undefeated in the NBA in-season tournament.
The star player had missed Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Raptors due to a strained right calf, marking his first absence of the season.
Notably, Malik Beasley scored 20 points, sinking six 3-pointers, while Damian Lillard added 27 points with five successful shots from beyond the arc. The Bucks dominated the Hornets in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 38-18.
“I loved how we shared the ball and moved it around, constantly looking for each other,” praised Bucks coach Adrian Griffin. “This has been our focus in the past week, and it’s an enjoyable way to play. Giannis played a crucial role in spearheading this approach, distributing the ball effectively and creating open shot opportunities for the team.”
Milwaukee’s victory sets the stage for an exciting showdown on November 28th against the Miami Heat, the only other undefeated team in East Group B. This game could potentially determine which team advances to the single-elimination knockout stage.
Both the Bucks and the Heat currently hold a 2-0 record in the tournament.
Coach Griffin revealed that he opted to keep his starters in the game during the fourth quarter, even with a significant lead, to improve the Bucks’ point differential numbers in the tournament. These numbers will play a role in determining the one wild card team from each conference.