NBA

'We make it tough on ourselves!' – Giannis on Bucks' huge comeback

By Sports Desk November 27, 2023

Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted the Milwaukee Bucks made life tough for themselves as he helped to seal a stirring 108-102 comeback victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Bucks rallied from a 26-point deficit to win the first meeting between the teams since the Blazers traded franchise icon Damian Lillard to Milwaukee in September. 

It was largest comeback in the NBA so far this season.

Lillard, who spent his first 11 seasons with Portland and is the Trail Blazers' all-time scoring leader, had 17 of his 31 points in the second half to aid the comeback, while Giannis came through with a tie-breaking basket with time winding down.

Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points, 16 rebounds and six assists in the Bucks' seventh win in eight games, which improved them to 12-5 on the season.

The rebuilding Blazers led 81-55 three minutes into the third quarter, but Milwaukee responded with a 17-2 run and continued to cut into the deficit until Lillard's 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining created a 97-97 tie.

Sunday's game remained deadlocked until Antetokounmpo tipped in teammate Bobby Portis' putback attempt to put the Bucks up by a 104-102 score. Lillard then sealed the win by making four free throws in the closing seconds.

"Sometimes we just make it tough on ourselves," Antetokounmpo said after the game, per ESPN.

"Don't get me wrong, I think Portland is a very good team – young team, play hard, but we just make it tough.

"We can't start the game like that. We should not be down 26 and then try to come and win the game. That takes a toll on your body. 

"But at the end of the day, I'm happy we were able to win."

Lillard and Antetokounmpo have scored 30 points each in the last two Bucks games.

"As the season moves forward, we're going to figure out ways to play with one another," added Giannis. 

"Be more effective, be more efficient with one another, know one another's spots. We are getting to that point. We are really getting to that point.

"At the end of the day, Dame has to be Dame. I have to be me. 

"As the games go on, we're going to keep on figuring ourselves out. The moment we are clicking on a higher level, it's going to become even more scary as we move forward."

Facing former team Portland (4-12) was an unusual experience for Lillard.

"Once I walked in, I saw a lot of familiar faces, I thought about going in the visitors' locker room for a second, but I was like, man, this a little bit different," he said to Bally Sports Wisconsin.

"When we got on the court, I saw everybody and it's a weird feeling. But once we started playing, I got over it quick."

Bucks coach Adrian Griffin was thrilled with Antetokounmpo, with a big Tuesday night In-Season Tournament game at the Miami Heat up next.

"He is one of the greatest players to play this game, and he showed it," said Griffin.

"We were kind of dead in the water, searching, trying to find some momentum, and it was a gritty win."

Jerami Grant had 22 points in Portland's ninth loss in 10 games, while Malcolm Brogdon recorded 18 points and 12 assists. 

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