Basketball

Antetokounmpo shows he is MVP material

Bucks star's 43-point haul against Wizards highlights his potential

Giannis Antetokounmpo underscored his potential MVP credentials yesterday morning (Singapore time) with a scintillating 43-point display, as the Milwaukee Bucks bagged their 40th win of the season with a 148-129 rout of the Washington Wizards.

Antetokounmpo led a dominant offensive display by the Bucks, who now own the best record in the NBA and lead the Eastern Conference standings with 40 wins against 13 defeats.

It was the latest in a series of superb performances this season by Antetokounmpo, who has thrust himself firmly into the conversation for MVP honours in recent weeks.

"Just tried to be aggressive coming into the game, trying to make plays for my team-mates," the 24-year-old Greek forward said.

Milwaukee earned their fifth straight win after pouring on 50 points in the first quarter against a Wizards side who were rarely in contention.

Milwaukee led 85-65 at half-time and, although the Wizards stormed back with a 42-point third quarter, the result was never seriously in doubt.

Antetokounmpo drained all three of his three-point attempts as he made 17 of 21 attempts. The Bucks star attributed his stellar display to a relaxed approach.

"I just tried not to think about it and to just shoot the ball," he said.

"That's what my team told me to do and that's what I'm going to keep on doing."

Antetokounmpo was one of six Bucks players to make double figures, with Eric Bledsoe posting 22 points along with 11 assists and six rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon made 18 points and Khris Middleton finished with 16. Ersan Ilyasova added 12 from the bench.

Bradley Beal added 30 for the Wizards, while Thomas Bryant finished with 26 and Jeff Green had 22 points.

Meanwhile, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant lashed out at the media yesterday following reports linking him to a move to the New York Knicks.

Speculation over Durant's future has intensified during the free agency window after the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis and other players to the Dallas Mavericks on Feb 1.

Durant, who has not spoken to the media since the Porzingis trade, broke his silence yesterday following Golden State's rout of San Antonio.

The two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP has been repeatedly linked to a move to the Knicks when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

However, the 30-year-old insisted that he was not thinking about his future and attacked reporters for "twisting" his comments.

"I have nothing to do with the Knicks, I don't know who traded Porzingis, it ain't got nothing to do with me. I'm trying to play basketball," Durant said.

"Y'all come here every day, ask me about free agency, talk to my teammates, talk to my coaches, rile up the fans about it.

"Now when I don't want to talk to you all, it's a problem with me? Come on man. Grow up."

Asked why he was reluctant to speak to the press, he added: "I just don't trust any y'all. Every time I say something, it gets twisted... Trying to tear me down with my words. And then when I don't say nothing, it's a problem. I just want to play ball. I want to go to the gym and go home. Is that a problem?"

Asked to comment on Golden State's form following their 141-102 win, Durant walked out of the press conference.

"I'm done. You know you don't care about that," he said. - AFP

OTHER RESULTS

Brooklyn 135 Denver 130, Chicago 120 New Orleans 125, Dallas 99 Charlotte 93, Utah 116 Phoenix 88, Sacramento 101 Houston 127.

Basketball