The Bucks’ young phenom finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds and five assists on a night that would have normally grabbed headlines on its own.
But James was even better with 40 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to record his 16th triple-double of the season, making him the third-oldest player in NBA history to tally a triple-double while scoring at least 40 points. Only Larry Bird (35) and Elgin Baylor (34) have achieved the feat at an older age than James (33).
“I was talking to myself when I was taking a shower. And I was like, ‘OK, what did I do wrong today guarding LeBron?'” Antetokounmpo said. “Because he’s the first player ever to score 40 on me that easy.
“It’s hard; [LeBron’s] a guy that can drive the ball, shoot the ball, especially late in his career now he’s been shooting the ball amazing. He’s getting his teammates in the right spot.
“He’s the best player in the world. That simple.”
James is nearly averaging a triple-double since the start of February, notching 29.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game, with hyper-efficient shooting splits of 54.5 per cent from the field and 41.3 per cent on 3-pointers.
Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, has taken his play to another level this season by averaging 27.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists to be in the MVP discussion.
The 23-year-old may have lost the battle against James on Monday, but Cavaliers coach Larry Drew, who was Antetokounmpo’s coach in his rookie season, believes the Bucks forward is on his way to becoming a transcendent player.
“When you watch both Giannis and you watch Bron on the floor, I tell you, you can’t [look away] – you have to be focused at all times because Bron is a special, special player. I mean, as special as probably you’ll ever see,” Drew said. “And Giannis is blooming into that.”
LeBron James has 16 triple-doubles this season, extending his career-high. No other player in NBA history has more than 3 triple-doubles in their 15th season or later, according to @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/kWOahYaKhp— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 20, 2018
Though Monday’s contest was the final regular season meeting between Cleveland and Milwaukee, there is a chance the two superstars will clash in the playoffs, depending on seeding.
Cleveland are currently third in the Eastern Conference, while Milwaukee sit eighth, but there’s only four games in the loss column separating them, with four teams in-between.
Antetokounmpo said of a potential playoff series with James: “It would be a great experience. I think LeBron brings the best out of me. It should be a fun playoff series to watch.”
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