MILWAUKEE -- The only reason Sunday's matinee between the Milwaukee Bucks and the lowly Portland Trail Blazers was circled on anyone's calendar was because of the Damian Lillard angle. Instead, his first game against his former team will be remembered for the Bucks' historic comeback in their 108-102 win.
Milwaukee's 26-point comeback is the largest in the league this season, and the largest second-half comeback in franchise history.
"We just sometimes make it tough on ourselves," Giannis Antetokounmpo said. "We should not be down 26 and then try to come and win the game. That takes a toll on your body. But at the end of the day I'm happy that we were able to win. I'm proud of the guys that kept their head up.
"What I know is that we were able to do something like this, so now you gotta keep yourself accountable. To not be down 26, to make the other team call the first timeout, to come out in the first five minutes and assert yourself. I know as a team we can do that, and I hold myself and my teammates, coaching staff, everybody, to high standards. Like, hey man, next time when the game starts, we should start right away."
Early on it was all Blazers, as they got into the paint at will and feasted on the Bucks' turnovers. Add in some strong 3-point shooting and they had a double-digit lead at the break, which they pushed out to 26 early in the third quarter. With the Bucks and the majority of Fiserv Forum half asleep, it seemed like the Blazers would cruise to their biggest win of the season.
And then, they simply stopped scoring. From their high-point lead of 81-55 with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter onward, they scored just 21 points on 7-of-36 from the field, and turned the ball over seven times.
"From the third quarter after the timeout, we made them feel uncomfortable," Antetokounmpo explained. "Made them go one-on-one, because when you switch then you gotta play one-on-one. We were guarding, guys were moving their feet, guys were being physical."
The Bucks weren't particularly brilliant on the offensive end themselves, but they clawed their way back into the game by getting to the free throw line -- Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard combined for all 32 of the Bucks' attempts -- and hit some big shots down the stretch.
None was bigger than Antetokounmpo's tip-in with 19 seconds left that put the Bucks ahead for good. The two-time MVP then came up with a huge block on the other end to seal the win.
Antetokounmpo finished with 33 rebounds, 16 rebounds and six assists. In the process, he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most games with 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in franchise history, with 106.
"He's one of the greatest players to play this game, and he showed it tonight," Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin said. "What can I say? He's an incredible leader, just has a great will to win and willing to do whatever it takes."