Hield, improving Kings take aim at Bucks

NBA Milwaukee
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Giannis Antetokounmpo had a point taken away in his most recent game, but not much else has slowed him or the Milwaukee Bucks, who are set to host the Sacramento Kings on Monday.

In a rare game in which he was held under 20 points, Antetokounmpo first was listed with 19 points Saturday against the Orlando Magic, until a review of the game tape revealed he was credited with a free throw that he actually missed early in the game.

The reigning NBA MVP has been so good that it simply is taken for granted that his shots will go in the basket.

Antetokounmpo enters Monday’s game averaging 30.0 points, 13.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. His 18-point performance was just his fifth under 20 points all season. But it isn’t like the off-night scoring caused the Bucks any problems.

Antetokounmpo still came close to a triple-double in the Bucks’ 111-95 victory over the Magic, with 18 rebounds and nine assists to go with the 18 points.

He did fall short of NBA history as he missed out on his sixth consecutive game with at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. His five straight games while reaching those numbers still leaves him in some solid company. Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player to accomplish the feat.

On the team front, where Antetokounmpo is more focused, the Bucks are an NBA-best 45-7 approaching the All-Star break. They were 39-13 after 52 games last season, and remain determined to overcome the disappointment of losing in the Eastern Conference finals.

“A lot of people didn’t expect we were going to have a better team, but I knew,” Antetokounmpo said after the victory over the Magic. “I trusted my team from Day One. When we came together we knew what we had and we have shown on the court that we are way better than last year. It’s not just about saying it. We’re showing it on the court also.”

Also better, at least of late, are the Kings, who have won six of their past eight games. The most recent game was a convincing 122-102 victory at home Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs.

That solid team run coincides with Buddy Hield’s move from the starting lineup to the second unit, where he has thrived. Instead of showing disappointment over what appeared to be a demotion, Hield has averaged 23.1 points per game over his past eight contests.

Hield not only scored 31 points in the victory over the Spurs, he went an eye-popping 9 of 10 from 3-point range while making a bit of history in the process. Hield reached 800 3-point makes faster than anybody in NBA history, doing it in 296 games. That’s nine games faster than Stephen Curry.

“Thank God for the opportunity, man,” Hield told reporters after the victory. “Where I came from, you never paint a picture like this, that I would be the fastest to get there, but I’ve been blessed. God has blessed me so tremendously. I can’t thank him (enough) and I just got to stay humble and keep working, and on to the next game for sure.”

–Field Level Media

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