MILWAUKEE -- By the final few minutes of the fourth quarter on Thursday night, Giannis Antetokounmpo had already submitted one of his best games of the season, but he still had one more moment of magic up his sleeve.
Driving into the lane, Khris Middleton tossed up a lob for his MVP teammate, only to see the pass deflected by Al Horford. As the ball careened off the glass and back out toward the court, it seemed like a turnover in the making. Instead, Giannis readjusted and reached as far back as his lanky arm would allow to corral the ball and slam it back home for one of the signature dunks of the season.
"The ball was damn near at the free-throw line and he reached back and dunked it," Donte DiVincenzo told CBS Sports. "That's one of the wow moments -- one of those things you don't see every day -- so even with him doing it it's still that wow factor."
Along with that exclamation-point jam, Giannis finished with 36 points, 20 rebounds and six assists to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the Philadelphia 76ers, 112-101. The win improved their record to a remarkable 44-7, and provided a bit of revenge for the blowout loss the Sixers handed them on Christmas Day. And even for a player such as Giannis, who has turned the incredible into routine, this performance was special.
Though he shot just 1 of 7 from 3-point range in this game, there was absolutely nothing the Sixers could do when he decided to drive into the lane. He was 10 of 13 at the rim, finishing over and around anyone who stood in his way. His early up-and-under move to school Joel Embiid was delightful, and even more impressive was that he made plays when it mattered most, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter to fend off the Sixers' brief comeback attempt. And that's to say nothing of his playmaking, defense or rebounding.
"The way he controls the glass and what he does defensively," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I do think the team works well, but to have a guy who can come in and get all the tough rebounds, get all the ones around the rim -- it's just such a great pairing with him and Brook. Just the way he rebounds to me is something that's special, that stands out, makes him unique. Yeah, he's special."
In addition to recording the first 30-point, 20-rebound game of his career, Giannis posted his fifth straight game of at least 30 points and 15 rebounds, which is the longest such streak in the league in the past 35 years, surpassing Shaquille O'Neal. If that wasn't enough, he also tied Wilt Chamberlain's NBA record of five straight games with at least 30 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. Furthermore, it's his 11th such game with those numbers this season; the rest of the players in the league have 10 combined.
"It's crazy," Giannis said. "I'm happy that we're winning, I'm happy that I'm playing good, but I can get a lot better. I can be smarter, I can be sharper, I can make better passes on time, I can make more shots, I can be better. I'm happy for the games, I'm happy that we're winning, but I still got to improve so I can help my teammates."
When a guy's the reigning MVP and putting up 30.2 points, 13.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists on 55.3 percent shooting, it's hard to imagine how he can get better. But then again, with his level of dedication and desire for excellence, combined with everything he's shown us the past few seasons, it might not be wise to put a limit on what he can do.