Monday’s game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets was only minutes old when Giannis Antetokounmpo, left wide open at the top of the arc, lined up a 3-point shot and let it fly.
For all his brilliance, long-range shooting is one of the few skills he has yet to master, and the result wasn’t surprising: Air ball, much to the delight of Brooklyn’s bench.
The Nets bench lost it after Giannis' air ball 😬 pic.twitter.com/3KbaMhEyJV
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 5, 2019
There’s a great chance Antetokounmpo would have dominated the Nets regardless. He is, after all, perhaps the only player who can prevent Houston’s James Harden from winning a second straight Kia MVP award.
But neither did it seem particularly intelligent to poke the proverbial bear after Antetokounmpo missed a triple-double by one assist (30 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists) and the Bucks led by as many as 25 en route to a 113-94 rout.
He added three blocks in a performance that impressed pretty much everyone in attendance — including a former POTUS and, presumably, those Nets at the end of the bench.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 5, 2019
The only inevitabilities in life are said to be death and taxes. In the NBA, they’ve come to be Golden State winning championships and Harden hanging at least 30 points.
The Rockets superstar did it once again, pushing his 30-point streak to 27 games with 44 in a 118-110 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
With Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 65 straight 30-point games safely out of reach (we think), Harden is only four games away from matching the second-best stretch of 31, also held by Chamberlain.
It also marked Harden’s 20th 40-point game of the season, more than any NBA player since Kobe Bryant had 27 for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2005-06. (According to the Houston Chronicle, Harden also joined Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Rick Barry as the only players with 20 40-point games in their first 50 outings.)
And, as is sometimes lost in the shuffle, Harden can do much more than just score. Witness his full-court dime to Kenneth Faried, who continued his resurgence in Houston with 17 points and 14 rebounds:
Again from the Chronicle, Harden’s 18th game with at least 40 points and five assists tied the record set by Tiny Archibald, which he will presumably shatter.
Speaking of Bryant, he made semi-waves Monday afternoon with his assertion that Harden’s extreme ball dominance isn’t conducive to winning championships. Bryant should know; despite winning five titles on his watch, the Lakers were also eliminated in the first round and missed the playoffs entirely during his two highest-scoring campaigns.
“Well, I think he has to do what he has to do in order for his team to win,” Bryant said in an interview with ESPN’s The Jump. “And there’s certain levels to it. So, there’s the style of play in which he’s using, which I’m not a fan of in terms of winning championships. I don’t think that style’s ever gonna win championships.”
“But at the same time, you have to keep your team’s head above water to win games,” Bryant told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and Tracy McGrady. “So, you have to do what you have to do to win games. And he’s doing it.”
Harden actually agreed with Bryant — but with a caveat, noting that the Rockets need everything he can give them as they work back to full strength.
Until then, Harden told the Chronicle, “Nothing can stop me.”
Comin’ at ya
Speaking of sweet dimes, check out the angle on this beauty from Atlanta Hawks point guard Jeremy Lin:
On the other end of the passing spectrum, you have this semi-errant pass from Sacramento Kings guard Yogi Ferrell. Fortunately for him, rookie forward Marvin Bagley III is a ninja:
Continuing the best stretch of his young career, Bagley finished with a career-high 24 points and 12 rebounds, helping the Kings move into ninth place in the Western Conference with a 127-112 rout of the San Antonio Spurs.
As for the Spurs, it was a lackluster start to their annual Rodeo Road Trip, which clocks in this season at eight games bracketing the All-Star break from Feb. 13-21.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially whenever Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon has the ball:
This fan took that pass from Dedmon like a champ. pic.twitter.com/Yg5EN3PblI
— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) February 5, 2019