MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a franchise-record 64 points to help the Milwaukee Bucks overcome the Indiana Pacers 140-126 in NBA action on Wednesday night, with Antetokounmpo at the center of a postgame showdown over the game ball.
Antetokounmpo broke the 57-player team record set by Michael Redd in 2006 in a 113-111 loss to the Utah Jazz. Antetokounmpo's previous career high was 55, in a 123-113 win over Washington in January 2023. He had 54 at Indiana on Nov. 9.
“He is an unstoppable player. You cannot protect it individually. You have some really good guys around him, but at the end of the day, it’s all him,” Bucks coach Adrian Griffin said. “Your talent. Your skill. Your will. He has an incredible will to win and will do whatever it takes to win. I'm just coaching the game and one of the coaches told me, 'Yeah, Giannis is 50. I had no idea.' But wow, what a great performance.”
Antetokounmpo made 20 of 28 shots from the field, made 24 of 32 free throws and grabbed 14 rebounds.
WHAT A NIGHT FOR GIANNIS.
64 PTS IS A NEW CAREER AND FRANCHISE RECORD 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/Z7kO8tausf
-NBA (@NBA) December 14, 2023
He became the first player in NBA history to make at least 20 field goals and 20 free throws in a game, shooting at least 70% on each. It is also the most points scored on fewer than 30 field goal attempts in a game in NBA history.
“It’s a great feeling. It feels great to be able to do that,” Antetokounmpo said. “As much as I can, I try to play basketball for the right reason. I try to play basketball to win, I try to play basketball to help my teammates be great, but at the end of the day, being able to break that record in front of the fans here in this stadium is also a great feeling. ”
The postgame was marred by an incident in the hallway near the Indiana locker room over who had the ball and who had the right to it.
“What happened after the game was unfortunate,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “There was a misunderstanding about the game ball. It was Oscar Tshiebwe's first official point in the NBA, which is why we always get the game ball. We weren't thinking about Giannis' franchise record, so we took the ball.
“A few minutes later, several of their players ended up in our hallway, and there was a big, I don't know what to call it – a fight, hand-to-hand, whatever. I don’t think any punches were thrown, but my general manager got elbowed in the ribs by one of his players.”
There was also a brief heated argument during the game involving several players.
Antetokounmpo was tackled by Aaron Nesmith on an underhand play with 10:10 remaining, starting the exchange. Nesmith was called for a flagrant-1, and Nesmith and the Bucks' Bobby Portis were assessed technical fouls.
Antetokounmpo made both free throws and Khris Middleton hit a jumper on the next possession to put the Bucks up 108-96. Portis was called for a second technical and ejected with 9:13 left, finishing with 19 points.
Antetokounmpo scored seven straight goals for the Bucks, increasing the lead to 118-100 with 6:26 left.
Damian Lillard added 21 points for the Bucks. Lillard's second 3-pointer with 8:06 left in the third quarter was the 2,451st of his career, passing Kyle Korver for fifth in NBA history.
Tyrese Haliburton and Myles Turner scored 22 points each for the Pacers, who defeated the Bucks 128-119 in the Season Tournament semifinals on Thursday night.
Antetokounmpo scored on a drive to put the Bucks up 96-80 with 3:40 left in the third quarter, but the Pacers were up 101-94 entering the final period.
Antetokounmpo had 21 points in the first half to lead the Bucks 70-63.
UPCOMING SCHEDULE FOR PACERS, BUCKS
Pacers: At Washington on Friday night.
Bucks: Host Detroit on Saturday night.