Giannis Antetokounmpo effusive after outdueling Kevin Durant: 'I look up to him, I'm not gonna lie'

Jason Owens
·3-min read

If Sunday's a sign of things to come, then bring on a Bucks-Nets playoff series. 

Milwaukee and Brooklyn put on a show on Sunday on the shoulders of monster efforts from the biggest stars on the court. Giannis Antetokounmpo's Bucks edged Kevin Durant's Nets, 117-114 when a tough last-second 3-point heave from Durant missed the mark.

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Giannis drops season high on Nets, gets big block on KD

The miss concluded a back-and-forth battle between the dueling superstars that saw Antetokounmpo gain a slight edge in the box score in addition to the scoreboard.

Milwaukee's reigning league MVP poured in a season-high 49 points to go with eight rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. He was electric from the field, connecting on 21-of-36 (58.3%) shots including a 4-of-8 effort from 3-point distance. 

One of those blocks turned back a seemingly unblockable Durant jump shot late in the fourth quarter as the Nets mounted a rally.

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Milwaukee needed everything it got from Antetokounmpo as Durant tallied 42 points and 10 rebounds to go with two assists and a steal. He connected on 16-of-33 (48.5%) shots from the field, including 7-of-13 from 3-point distance. With the playoffs approaching, the effort was an encouraging sign for Nets fans who have watched much of Durant's debut season in Brooklyn take place in street clothes. 

While it wasn't enough for the win, Durant's performance was enough to garner effusive praise from Antetokounmpo.

'KD's one of the greatest scorers to ever play'

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"KD's one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game," Antetokounmpo told ESPN while downplaying the scoring duel with his Brooklyn counterpart. "You cannot play that way. If you go back and forth with a guy like that, he's gonna score 50, 70."

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 02: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets is defended by Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half of a game at Fiserv Forum on May 02, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Was Sunday's showdown an Eastern Conference playoff preview? (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Antetokounmpo carried on with his praise of Durant after leaving the court.

"What he does is unbelievable," Antetokounmpo said. "Being 6-11, being able to shoot over everybody. The way he handles the ball and gets to his spot is unbelievable. The best I've seen in my life. I look up to him, I'm not gonna lie."

With the win, the Bucks (40-24) moved to within 2.5 games of the 76ers (42-21) and Nets (43-22) at the top of the Eastern Conference. The current standings would set up a potential showdown in the conference semifinals. But before that, they get one last regular-season crack at each other on Tuesday. 

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