NBA

Lillard-Giannis connection "getting much better"

By Sports Desk March 11, 2024

Damian Lillard is confident his relationship with Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is growing stronger after the pair dismantled the Los Angeles Clippers.

Lillard had 35 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists, while Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds as the Bucks beat the short-handed Clippers 124-117 on Sunday.

They turned on the style in the fourth quarter, with Antetokounmpo and Lillard playing a direct role in 31 consecutive points for the Bucks.

The duo are only the second pair of teammates to finish with at least 30 points and 10 assists in the same game since 1980.

"I think it's getting much better," said Lillard, who joined the Bucks from the Portland Trail Blazers last year.

"To start the season, I think a lot of people wanted it to just click and happen right away.

"But I think any time you put two guys together who have always been the decision-maker, always had their hands on the ball for years and years and years, it's going to take time for us to learn how to play with each other."

Sixteen of Lillard's points came in the final quarter, with Antetokounmpo stating the Bucks have been working on finishing strong down the stretch.

"It's how we work in practice," he said.

"We got a lot of good shots down the stretch. Tonight it worked, and it's something we're going to have to do moving forward."

The Bucks bounced back from back-to-back defeats, while the Clippers – who were without Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook – lost for the second time in the space of four games.

Coach Tyronn Lue, though, credited the Bucks' star performers.

"Those two guys, they're great players, and we understand that," Lue said.

"They had a good game. I thought Dame set the tone early and then took over the game late.

"Once he got going, it was hard to stop him. We tried to blitz, tried to do some different things, but he had it going and made some big shots."

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