But after the Milwaukee Bucks’ 124-117 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, all the Bucks star could think about was how LeBron James upstaged him with 40 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists of his own.
“I was talking to myself when I was taking a shower. And I was like, ‘OK, what did I do wrong today guarding LeBron?'” Antetokounmpo said after the game. “Because he’s the first player ever to score 40 on me that easy. It’s hard; [LeBron’s] a guy that can drive the ball, shoot the ball, especially late in his career now he’s been shooting the ball amazing. He’s getting his teammates in the right spot. He’s the best player in the world. That simple.”
James’ night was historically dominant, as he became the third-oldest player in league history to notch a triple-double while scoring at least 40 points at 33 years, 79 days old, putting him behind only Larry Bird (35 years, 99 days) and Elgin Baylor (34 days, 48 days) among the game’s greatest graybeards in that category, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
LeBron James scored 40 points as part of his third triple-double in four games and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 124-117 on Monday night as coach Tyronn Lue began his leave of absence to address health issues.
James became the fifth player in league history with five 40-point triple-doubles, according to the Elias Sports Bureau research, and he did it on the day he won Eastern Conference Player of the Week for a record 60th time (and the third time this season).
“Stay committed to my regimen,” James credited for his recent play after averaging 32.0 points on 56.9 percent shooting from the field, 13.3 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.3 blocks to earn player of the week honors. “I’m not going to make shots every night, but what I do know is I’m going to do other things if I don’t make shots to get my guys involved and rebound and defend. I can take a charge here and there if it presents itself, I can block shots and get steals. I can always figure out a way to be a threat on the floor even if I’m not scoring. For me that doesn’t change.”
While Antetokounmpo was frustrated with his performance guarding James, Cavs acting head coach Larry Drew — who was Antetokounmpo’s coach during his rookie season — marveled at the young forward’s development.
“If you remember, I was part of that staff that drafted him. And I’ll never forget when I first saw him, I had to take a trip to Europe, to Estonia, to see him,” Drew said. “And I’m watching this real thin kid. Had no idea — I don’t think anybody had any inkling — that he’d turn out the way he did. But I just remember seeing him back then and just seeing where he has grown to now. And he just leaves me scratching my head a little bit, to be perfectly honest.
“When you watch both Giannis and you watch Bron on the floor, I tell you, you can’t [look away] — you have to be focused at all times because Bron is a special, special player. I mean, as special as probably you’ll ever see. And Giannis is blooming into that.
“But watching a game like tonight, you are sure fans are going to get their money’s worth with them watching LB and watching Giannis.”
The win kept the Cavs a half-game up on Indiana for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The loss kept the Bucks in a virtual tie with the Miami Heat for No. 7.
Perhaps the fans will get even more to see should Cleveland and Milwaukee somehow meet in the postseason.
“It would be a great experience,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think LeBron brings the best out of me. It should be a fun playoff series to watch.”