Giannis Antetokounmpo was not messing around Thursday night. The reigning NBA MVP was everywhere in Milwaukee's 111-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. He dominated the game from start to finish and helped send the message that this Bucks team can beat anyone in the NBA.
Antetokounmpo finished the night with 34 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in just 32 minutes. Had he not battled foul trouble, Giannis could have racked up an even better line. Perhaps more terrifying than the other numbers he posted, Antetokounmpo went 5-for-8 from three-point range.
With their MVP pacing the way, the Bucks led by 21 at one point and 19 at the half. It was the most dominant performance anyone has had against the Lakers all season. LeBron James & Co. made a valiant run in the second half, but could never get within five.
Despite a triple-double from James (21-12-11) and 36 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocks from Anthony Davis, the Bucks were able to get the win. They poured in 16 three-pointers to beat the Lakers from deep as opposed to trying to win a battle in paint. It's the way most teams will need to beat LA, given the stellar interior defense the team gets from Davis, Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee.
Yes, the Lakers were finishing a streak where they played eight of their last nine away from Staples Center, and were at the end of a five-time road trip, but Milwaukee is for real. The Bucks took over league supremacy with the victory, improving to 25-4 while the Lakers fell to 24-5.
With his performance, Antetokounmpo proved once again that he's the NBA's best player right now. He's so incredibly difficult to guard and when he's hitting triples he's virtually unstoppable. His supporting cast shows up every night, with Khris Middleton and the injured Eric Bledsoe providing the most backup.
With their display Thursday night against the Lakers, it's clear the Bucks are here to stay. Antetokounmpo and his teammates have the best squad in the NBA right now and are clearly ready to contend for a title.