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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has seen it all from Giannis Antetokounmpo at this point, but even he had to stop and chuckle during his postgame press conference when asked about the two-time MVP's 54-point, 19-rebound performance in the Bucks' 21-point comeback win over the Los Angeles Clippers

"Every day, grateful for him, this organization, this city," Budenholzer said after the 106-105 victory. "The crowd tonight was awesome, the appreciation. But he's just incredibly special. Fifty is so tough in this league, and I've never been around anybody who's done it three times in a season. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is an icon in our league. Giannis is building our legacy; I'm glad to have a great seat to watch it."

Everyone else who was lucky enough to have a seat inside Fiserv Forum on Thursday night felt the same way, including Antetokounmpo's teammates, who were carried along for the ride. Antetokounmpo scored over 50 percent of his team's points, including the final 12 down the stretch to help the Bucks complete their biggest comeback this season. 

"We love it," Khris Middleton said. "It gives us confidence because we know no matter what we're always in the game because we got this guy that's gonna keep coming, he's relentless and putting his foot on the pedal."

In the middle of the third quarter, Paul George hit a free throw to push the Clippers' advantage to 21 points. With the Bucks mired in one of their worst shooting nights of the season, and every non-Antetokounmpo player still stuck under double figures, it seemed the Clippers would coast to an impressive road win. Antetokounmpo had other ideas. He either scored or assisted on eight straight points to jump start a late third-quarter run that helped the Bucks cut the deficit to single digits. 

He carried that momentum over into the fourth, demanding the ball time and again while Ivica Zubac sat back in a deep drop to try and protect the rim. Though that strategy did tempt Antetokounmpo into a few more jumpers than usual, it was not enough to stop him from taking over the game. Antetokounmpo scored 20 of his 54 points in the fourth -- outscoring the entire Clippers team in the frame -- and would not be denied down the stretch as the Bucks closed the game on 7-0 run over the final 3:52.

With 1:47 remaining, Antetokounmpo got to the line for what would be the game-winning free throws, just seconds after an empty trip to the line. Antetokounmpo is down to 64.6 percent on free throws this season, his lowest mark since 2020, but he's taking a career-high 13.2 per game.

"I'm not scared to go to the line," Antetokounmpo said. "Situations like that, usually sometimes players get scared, they don't want to go back there, but at the end of the day I would rather miss four in a row. I would be upset, but at least I know I missed four in a row, I'm gonna go the next day, try to work extremely hard at it and try for the best next time. I try not to be scared of the moment and I just trust my work and hope most of the time the outcome's gonna be good."

Antetokounmpo's 54 points were the second-highest scoring total of his career, just one shy of the 55 he put up against the Washington Wizards on Jan. 3. Coming into this season, Antetokounmpo had just three 50-point outings to his name in nine years; he now has three in the last month. The only other player in Bucks franchise history to have as many 50-point games in one season is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. 

"It's a great compliment to be up there with Kareem," Antetokounmpo said. "I never thought I'm gonna score 50 in the NBA when I got drafted. It's insane, crazy journey. I finish the game when I score 50, I'm like, 'What the hell just happened?' It's insane. It's a lot of hard work, a lot of self-belief and being up there with somebody like Kareem that played in this franchise, it's a great compliment."

But though Antetokounmpo admitted that scoring 50 points is "fun," he wouldn't go as far as saying the marker means anything extra. Instead, he fell back on his usual mantra of winning and building good habits. He and the Bucks have been doing a lot of that lately. Winners of six in a row and eight of their last 10, they're now all alone in second place in the Eastern Conference at 35-17, just two games back of the Boston Celtics

As long as Antetokounmpo continues performing like this, their mid-season slump will be nothing more than a footnote. 

"We need it from him. He knows that," Middleton said. "With him playing at this level, he's unstoppable as you see."