Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Milwaukee Bucks to a 128-119 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night, achieving a significant milestone by surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the Bucks' all-time rebounding leader.
A Night of Records and Milestones
Antetokounmpo's phenomenal performance, scoring 26 points and securing 17 rebounds, marked his highest rebounding total of the season.
This achievement allowed him to eclipse Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing record.
Antetokounmpo, reflecting on his achievement, expressed humility and foresight: “I don't think anybody assumed that the skinny kid from Greece that was drafted and supposed to play in the G-League would be in position to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's record”.The Bucks' victory also extended their impressive home game winning streak to 13, enhancing their home record to 14-1. This win also ended the Rockets' five-game winning streak, leaving Houston with a 13-10 record and a struggling 2-9 on the road.
Khris Middleton, a pivotal player for the Bucks, contributed significantly, especially in the fourth quarter. Scoring 14 of his 20 points in the final period, Middleton's clutch plays were instrumental in solidifying the Bucks' lead.
His three-point play, along with Antetokounmpo's, was critical in the game's final moments.
“Khris does this all the time, where he just settles us down where we need a basket and he goes and gets us a bucket,” remarked Bucks coach Adrian Griffin.
Team Effort and Opponents' Challenges
The Bucks' triumph was a team effort, with notable contributions from Brook Lopez, who added 18 points, and Bobby Portis, providing a spark off the bench. Middleton, reflecting on his journey with Antetokounmpo since 2013, acknowledged the Greek player's remarkable growth and dedication to his craft.
The game also saw its share of drama, with Dillon Brooks of the Rockets being ejected for flopping and receiving two technical fouls. Rockets coach Ime Udoka also faced two technicals, leading to Damian Lillard tying his season-high scoring total with free throws.
Fred VanVleet led the Rockets with 22 points, and Alperen Sengun contributed 20, but their efforts fell short against the surging Bucks. Antetokounmpo's historic rebound, captured off Tari Eason's missed shot, not only broke Abdul-Jabbar's record but also earned him a standing ovation from the Fiserv Forum crowd, a fitting tribute to a player who has become a franchise icon.