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Antetokounmpo slams ball off Harden’s head, outduels rival

Houston, Thursday @PeopleSport11

James Harden may have poured in 42 points for the Rockets but it was Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks who took the 116-109 win … and did the Greek Freak ever throw it in Harden’s face.

The two favourites for MVP honours went toe-to-toe in Houston and despite Harden’s big scoring night it was Antetokounmpo who reigned with 27 points, 21 rebounds and five assists.

And it was one of the latter that stole the show — it even featured what could be called a Harden flop.

Spinning with the ball in hand Antetokounmpo threw it hard across the court, straight at Harden, who was floored when it hit his head. The ball bounced back to an unmoved Greek Freak, who then dished it to Ersan Ilyasova, who nailed the triple for one of the plays of the season as social media had a field day.

Not since Denver’s Chauncey Billups inbounded off Kobe Bryant’s back in game three of the 2009 Western Conference finals has a ball been used as such a weapon in the lead up to a basket.

Some even suggested it may as well have been the MVP trophy he hurled at Harden. Either way, the Bucks withstood a late Houston charge to hold on for the win and improve their record to an East-leading 29-11 as Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 and Khris Middleton added 15.

For the Rockets, Harden was backed up by 18 points and 13 rebounds from Clint Capela and 16 points from Gerald Green off the bench.

The battling Cleveland Cavaliers managed to take it to the New Orleans Pelicans for two-and-a-half quarters in the Big Easy but they simply couldn’t contain Pelicans star Anthony Davis down the stretch.

As the game wore on Davis’ size and athleticism became a big factor. The young Cavs simply could not guard him as he and the Pels exploded late to run out 140-124 winners.

Davis finished with 38 points and 13 rebounds. On the plus side for the Cavaliers, Dellavedova had his best night since returning to the city where he won a championship with LeBron James in the 2015/16 season.   – AFP

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