Sunday, April 14 2024
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Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 64 points against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, and the entire story wound up being about the game ball. 

Giannis wanted it. The Pacers, it appeared, had taken it. Giannis went furiously sprinting into the Pacers’ tunnel, where, as Rick Carlisle called it, a “fracas” broke out, leaving Pacers GM Chad Buchanan, again according to Carlisle, with bruised ribs after he was elbowed by a Bucks player. 

Carlisle’s story is that Indiana did, indeed, take the game ball at the buzzer, but not because the team was trying to steal it from Giannis, but because they wanted it for their rookie, Oscar Tshiebwe, who had scored his first NBA point in the game. 

So here’s where it gets interesting. CBS Sports’ Jack Maloney confirms that Bucks security was able to retrieve a ball for Giannis, but Giannis does not know if the ball he received is actually the game ball. 

“I have a ball, but I don’t know if it’s the game ball. It doesn’t feel like a game ball to me,” Antetokounmpo said. “It feels like a brand-new ball. I can tell. I played 35 minutes today. I know how the game ball felt. The ball I have, which I’ll take and I’ll give it to my mom for sure, but I don’t know if it’s actually the game ball.”

Giannis went on to say that he didn’t even want the ball for himself, but instead for Damian Lillard, who moved into fifth all-time on the career 3-point list. He might be trying to say the right thing there, as he clearly said he would give the ball he has to his mom. 

Either way, there was, and still is, plenty of reason to suspect that the Pacers, even if they did in fact take a reserve ball, were not doing so entirely innocently. They didn’t appear to be happy with the way that Giannis was chasing the record in a blowout, and things had already started to get chippy when Aaron Nesmith all but hogtied Giannis to the ground early in the fourth quarter.

Following that, Carlisle pulled his starters around the six-minute mark with the Pacers trailing by 16, but the Bucks starters stayed in as Giannis was chasing not only what was previously his career high of 55 points, but also the Bucks’ franchise record of 57, which was held by Michael Redd. 

Giannis hit 58 points for his career high and the Bucks record and exited the game with 3:24 left in the fourth quarter. At that point, the Bucks were up by 19 points. 

But then the Pacers cut the deficit to 10 and Giannis came back into the game with 2:02 remaining. This is seemingly where the Pacers could have gotten upset. You know how these grown men can get extremely childish when their egos get grazed. We saw this with teams chasing point differentials during In-Season Tournament games. 

So you start with the Nesmith incident, then factor in Giannis putting his foot down in pursuit of the record, to the point of coming back into a game that was all but over, and things were surely on edge. Giannis saw the Pacers take off with what he believed to be his ball, and he went after it. 

The Pacers say they took the reserve ball. Giannis doesn’t think he wound up with the main one. One of the great mysteries appears to be unsolved at the moment (what we really need is for Chris Paul to dig a tunnel to Indiana’s locker room and lead a search party in there to recover evidence). It’s all pretty hilarious stuff, actually. This league and its drama never fails to entertain. 

Meanwhile, if you’re here for the actual basketball highlights, here you go:

As for the case of the missing basketball, we’ll keep you up to date if there are any new developments in the investigation. 



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