Losing Giannis Antetokounmpo was an undeniably tough blow for the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. In fact, the two-time MVP’s controversial ejection in the third quarter nearly cost Milwaukee the game.
Damian Lillard, however, just wasn’t going to let that happen.
Damian Lillard’s Time to Shine for Milwaukee Bucks
It’s as if a freight train had run the Bucks over early in the second half when Giannis was assessed with his second technical foul. His ejection led to the Pistons outscoring their opponents 43-28 in the third quarter as Detroit held on to the lead until deep into the final few minutes of play.
Through it all, however, the Bucks held on. This was thanks in large part to Lillard, who dropped 34 points in 34 minutes sans Antetokounmpo.
After the game, Bucks veteran Jae Crowder highlighted the silver lining of Giannis’ early exit. According to Crowder, it was a great opportunity for the team to see what Lillard could do without Antetokounmpo on the floor:
“I just told the group that it builds character,” Crowder said, via Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “It builds another layer of tough skin for our group. To not have big fella (Antetokounmpo) down the stretch, run everything through Dame, him making the right play, I just think it takes our team to another level.
“We know what he’s going to do on a nightly basis. He does a great job. We’re trying to build cohesiveness amongst one another, with or without big fella, because I think that makes the game easier on everybody. We just did a good job playing through Dame, playing off of him and guys stepped up on both ends of the court.”
You can always count on Lillard to step up to the plate whenever his team needs him. Wednesday’s win is a clear testament to this notion.
At the same time, however, I’m still pretty sure Bucks fans would prefer having both their superstars on the floor whenever possible.
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