NBA

Antetokounmpo insists 'no more excuses' as fit and firing Bucks down Thunder

By Sports Desk March 25, 2024

Giannis Antetokounmpo has no time left for excuses after the Milwaukee Bucks put injury struggles to one side in a convincing victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bucks star Antetokounmpo recorded 30 points and a season-high 19 rebounds, while Khris Middleton registered his second career triple-double in Sunday's 118-93 thrashing of the Thunder.

Middleton had missed 16 straight games with a sprained left ankle, while Antetokounmpo returned for Thursday's victory over the Brooklyn Nets after missing two games due to an issue with his left hamstring.

Indeed, Sunday was the first time Antetokounmpo, Middleton and seven-time All-NBA guard Damian Lillard had shared the court since February 3.

"I just feel this appreciation of having everybody healthy and available to play," Antetokounmpo said.

"When we're not healthy, I think sometimes we play well, sometimes we don't, sometimes we create this excuse in our mind that like, 'OK, when he gets back, we're going to be better.' 

"But now we're all here. There are no more excuses."

Middleton had 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first triple-double since January 2018 and echoed Antetokounmpo's sentiment.

"With a full team out there, we realise what we can do," said Middleton. "We have so many guys, so many weapons that can carry us, or guys that can make a play or just attract a crowd."

In total, Milwaukee had seven players score in double figures as Bobby Portis posted 15 points, Brook Lopez 14, Lillard and Pat Connaughton 11 each and Jae Crowder 10.

"Just having everybody together makes the game easier for everybody,” Antetokounmpo added. "We don't have to force anything. We just keep on playing good basketball, keep on moving the ball.

"There's going to be some nights that it's going to be my night. There's going to be some nights that it's going to be Khris' night. There's going to be some nights that it's going to be Dame's night.

"But we don't have to force anything. Everybody out there is a threat. I think our bench is unbelievable, and they keep on getting better."

Such was Milwaukee's control, Oklahoma City's Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 12 points – the first time since January 16 he has been held below 20 – and sat out the entire fourth quarter as the Bucks dominated.

"They had him in a crowd for much of the night and made it very difficult for him to get his cracks," Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said of Gilgeous-Alexander.

"I thought as a team, just our overall pace and sharpness on offense wasn't where it needed to be."

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