Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to the biggest comeback win of the NBA season to date on Sunday, downing the Portland Trail Blazers before declaring: “Sometimes we make it tough on ourselves”.
The Bucks found themselves 81-55 down with nine minutes and eight seconds to play in the third quarter, but they finished on a thrilling 58-21 run to clinch an improbable comeback victory at Fiserv Forum.
The 26-point deficit they faced in the third is the largest any team has overturned to win in the NBA this campaign, and it also represents Milwaukee’s second-biggest comeback win in the last 25 seasons, only bettered by a 27-point fightback against the Chicago Bulls in 2012.
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It was two-time MVP Antetokounmpo who led the way with 33 points, and though he was delighted with the win, he acknowledged the Bucks should not have found themselves in that position.
“Sometimes we just make it tough on ourselves,” Antetokounmpo said.
“Don’t get me wrong, I think Portland is a very good team – a young team who 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.”
GIANNIS FOR THE LEAD ‼️
BUCKS ON THE VERGE OF A 26-POINT COMEBACK.
— NBA (@NBA) November 26, 2023
Damian Lillard added 31 points on his first appearance against his former franchise, having spent the first 11 years of his career in Portland before September’s blockbuster trade to Milwaukee.
Asked how it felt to face his old team-mates, Lillard said: “Once I walked in, I saw a lot of familiar faces, I thought about going in the visitors’ locker room for a second! I was like, ‘man, this a little bit different’.
“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.”
Sunday’s win made it back-to-back games in which Antetokounmpo and Lillard have both scored 30 points, with the Bucks’ star duo beginning to gel ahead of this week’s two-game road stretch, which sees them face the Miami Heat and Chicago.
“As the season moves forward, we’re going to figure out ways to play with one another,” Antetokounmpo said.
“To be more effective, be more efficient with one another, know one another’s spots. We are 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.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo has passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most games of 30+ PTS, 10+ REB, and 5+ AST in Bucks Franchise History.
Giannis: 107 games
Kareem: 106 games pic.twitter.com/SQVGzeszI4
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) November 26, 2023