12:38 AM ET
MILWAUKEE — After knocking down a career-best five 3-pointers Thursday night to help take down the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 and lead the Bucks to the NBA’s best record at 25-4, Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t bask in glory.
The reigning MVP dressed quickly and then darted to the kids’ room of Fiserv Forum for a family meeting with brothers Thanasis, Kostas and Alex — plus their mom and Giannis’ pregnant girlfriend — almost forgetting his media obligations, before reflecting on the moment.
“I think the most important thing is to try to stay humble. When you win MVP and you win 60 games, it’s hard,” Antetokounmpo explained in the arena hallway after his 34-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist performance. “You feel like, ‘OK, what else?’ But at the end of the day, I realize and my family realizes that I’m not supposed to be here.”
“I wasn’t the No. 1 pick. [Anthony Davis] was. LeBron [James] was. I wasn’t supposed to be here,” he continued. “I’m not supposed to go against these two beasts, so I’m just happy that I’m here and happy that I’m going through the process, and I always want to be better, do better for my team, and that’s what gives me joy.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks catch up with their brother Kostas Antetokounmpo of the Lakers after Thursday night’s showdown.
Including his 5-of-8 performance from beyond the arc Thursday night, Antetokounmpo is 13-for-23 from 27-plus feet in eight games this month after going 13-for-59 in his previous 92 games since the start of last season, per ESPN Stats & Information research.
Antetokounmpo is shooting 44% on 3-pointers in December. He shot 29% on 3s in October and November.
All five of Antetokounmpo’s 3s came from 27-plus feet, the most 27-footers in a game by a Bucks player over the past 20 seasons. He winked after drilling his final trey near the left wing at 9 minutes, 7 seconds in the fourth quarter.
“I’m going to keep shooting. It doesn’t matter for me if I made one, two or five, I just want to be better,” Antetokounmpo said. “And I want to keep getting better and keep working on my game, and it’s going to be some nights that I’m going to make zero and it’ll be nights I’ll make five, but I’ve got to keep shooting because that’s what my team wants me to do.”
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer lauded Antetokounmpo as “very rare, very special” after his latest performance for his 3-point improvement, even after winning MVP.
“I think a lot of players keep working, keep getting better, and it’s part of our league, part of being a professional,” Budenholzer said. “But what Giannis does in the summer, the amount of time he puts in before practices, after practices, taking care of his body — but I think everybody, as special as he was last year, I think even opponents and his peers, I think, see and know that he can get better. He’s doing it. He’s putting the time and effort in, and we just feel fortunate he’s ours and excited about him and our future.”
Davis ended with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists to lead the Lakers. However, on defense, Antetokounmpo scored 14 points with Davis as the nearest defender, the second-most points Davis has allowed as the nearest defender in a game this season.
Even with that, Antetokounmpo is keyed in on improving, and his latest 3-point-shooting display was all of his hard work coming to fruition.
“Winning games, that’s one, but improving and seeing the result at the end of the day. All the shots I made today, I’ve made these shots like four or five years ago, so seeing them going in tonight, that gives me joy,” Antetokounmpo said. “That makes me want to work on other parts of my game, and I can make those shots three years from now. That’s what fills me up with joy.”