Well that was fun!
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson went toe-to-toe in an enthralling back-and-forth battle that saw Milwaukee edge New Orleans 129-125.
Defence was not exactly the theme of the night, but a critical charge taken by Donte DiVincenzo in the final seconds helped the Bucks hang on to improve to 20-13 on the season.
Donte DiVincenzo steps in to take the CLUTCH CHARGE! @PelicansNBA 125@Bucks 129- NBA (@NBA) February 26, 2021
1.2 left on TNT pic.twitter.com/FEjWounsED
Rampaging Zion tough to slow down
"He's such a strong and explosive player," Bucks forward Khris Middleton said postgame. "To see him finish over Brook and Giannis at the same time is not something I've seen a lot, so that's definitely a special guy over there."
Williamson poured in 34 points and eight rebounds on the night, attacking the Bucks' paint defenders in Brook Lopez and Antetokounmpo on repeat.
The rim is still shaking 😬 pic.twitter.com/13l6r5RqOp- New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 26, 2021
Finishing 15-for-26 from the field, the freshly named All-Star had 24 points at the half, his highest mark of six 20-point halves in his short career.
🚫 ZION SPIKES IT OFF THE BACKBOARD! 🚫- NBA (@NBA) February 26, 2021
He also has a career-high for PTS in a half with 24 on TNT. pic.twitter.com/RGcUDBWUzA
"It doesn't take one person, you gotta show bodies. When he drives the ball he has such a quick second jump," Antetokounmpo said of Williamson. "It's someone..we've never seen anybody like it, I have never seen anybody like it in the past."
The only downside from tonight is knowing that the season series between the Bucks and Pelicans is now finished, with each team securing a win.
Giannis continues MVP form
The back-to-back league MVP has been an afterthought in the discussion this season, but the 26-year-old is forcing his way back into the conversation with sheer force.
The 38 points, 10 rebounds and four assists was just the latest big night in a simply dominant month of February where the Bucks have missed Jrue Holiday for ten games and counting. Antetokounmpo was averaging 29.6 points, 12.3 rebounds and 6.3 points in 13 February appearances coming in, on 56 percent from the field and 74 percent from the free-throw line.
35+PTS in 3 straight games for Giannis:- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) February 26, 2021
38 PTS, 18 REB
37 PTS, 8 REB, 8 AST
38 PTS, 10 REB@Giannis_An34 x #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/NWjr4p5IaU
Coming together at mid-court after the final buzzer, Giannis swapped jerseys with Zion.
"There is a lot of value in jerseys," Antetokounmpo said with a smile postgame. "When I take a tech, that's $2000, so now I have a jersey I can sell for a little bit more. If I don't sell it I can give it to my kids and they can sell it."
It was the latest in a series of funny moments from Antetokounmpo this season, and let's be honest, who wouldn't want a Zion jersey?
Donte DiVincenzo post a career night
With Jrue Holiday missing his tenth straight game, the Bucks guard depth has been tested of late. When D.J Augustin was a late scratch due to a new addition to the family, much of the load was set to fall on DiVincenzo to help with the ball handling duties.
The third-year guard delivered in spades, pouring in a career-high 24 points to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists in the best game of his short career.
The Big Ragu was saucin' it up:- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 26, 2021
24 PTS (career-high) | 9 AST | 7 REB | 2 STL | 1 BLK pic.twitter.com/brf3MMQLuO
On top of his offensive contributions, the above mentioned charge on Ingram sealed victory for the Bucks, on a night where defence was not a feature.
The Bucks remain excited by the prospect of Holiday and Augustin returning to the lineup, but with more performances like this, DiVincenzo's stock will only continue to rise.
The Bucks will have two nights off before hosting the LA Clippers in a marquee matchup at Fiserv Forum. New Orleans only get one day to rest before their road trip continues in San Antonio.
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