'One of those moments': Giannis Antetokounmpo nets 50 for Bucks

MILWAUKEE -- Giannis Antetokounmpo saw it coming.

The Milwaukee Bucks star was about to start a postgame on-court interview when out of the corner of his eye, he saw his teammates standing in the tunnel. He knew exactly what they were plotting, too.

As more teammates emerged, Antetokounmpo slowly started to back away from the baseline all the way to half court.

Eventually, he accepted his fate and teammates doused him in water to celebrate another great performance -- 50 points and 13 rebounds on 20-of-26 shooting in just 30 minutes of action as the Bucks took down the New Orleans Pelicans, 135-110, on Sunday.

Typically, the postgame water shower is reserved for the locker room, but his teammates decided it needed to get done on the court.

"We might as well do it in front of everybody," Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said. "It's really just to show how much we appreciate him. For him to go out there and do that is amazing no matter how many times you score 50 points."

It was the fifth 50-point regular-season game of Antetokounmpo's career and his second this month -- the first time he has had multiple 50-point games in the same season. He had a career-high 55 points on Jan. 3 against the Detroit Pistons. He also joins Joel Embiid as the only players this season with multiple 50-point, 10-rebound games this season.

Antetokounmpo had 18 points in the first quarter as he got off to a fast start and never looked back. He had 29 points at halftime, tied for the second most he has had in a first half.

Holiday said Antetokounmpo just makes it look easy and knows exactly what to do when he gets off to a start like he did on Sunday.

"It's a great time," Holiday said. "Everybody just kind of gets on his shoulders and we're just along for the ride. At that point, we just got to support him. If he passes it to us, make the shot. But for the most part, we know who's going to carry us."

Bucks center Brook Lopez said when Antetokounmpo is playing the way he was, it's just "fun to watch."

"He came on the court with his usual determination," Lopez said. "He didn't settle. He was getting to the rim in ways only he could and finishing. Those are tough finishes, and he was still getting them done."

Antetokounmpo entered the fourth quarter with 35 points and was sitting at 44 points before knocking down back-to-back 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to hit 50.

He admitted he knew he was close to the 50-point mark late as he was hoisting up the 3-pointers.

"I knew that if I was able to get the rebound, I was going to shoot," Antetokounmpo said. "It doesn't always work out, but tonight it did. I didn't hesitate at all. I was able to get my legs under my shot. Stayed there and just watched the ball go in.

"It's one of those moments you can never take for granted because you never know when you're going to have those moments again."

Antetokounmpo immediately turned his attention to the Charlotte Hornets, whom the Bucks play on Tuesday night. The last time the teams played on Jan. 6, the Hornets came away with a 138-109 victory.

That night, Antetokounmpo finished with just nine points and four rebounds on 2-of-7 shooting, a far cry from his efficient night against the Pelicans on Sunday.

"Tonight, I think 50 on 26 shots is impressive," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Just everything he did, his aggressiveness. A couple 3s, especially late. But he's shooting it well. Feels like a few more catch and shoots is something if we can generate a few of those for him and build the confidence in that area, keep getting to the free throw line and working on that, those are areas where he's improving."