Breakfast Special: Of Greek Freaks And Beards

Giannis Antetokounmpo seems to get short-shrifted in the MVP conversation.

Pundits go back and forth about Stephen Curry and LeBron James and James Harden (more on the Beard in a minute), but Milwaukee’s the team with the gaudy record (39-13, best in the league, and on pace for 61 wins), the massive point differential (+10, what you’d expect out of a 68-win team), and the best athlete in the whole league, good ol’ Greekazoid.

Antetokounmpo had 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting, grabbed 15 rebounds, dished nine assists, and powered the Bucks to a 113-94 smackdown of the Nets in Brooklyn that included a 36-22 burst in the third quarter to put the game on ice.

Only three other Bucks scored in double figures. Milwaukee shot 42.6 percent as a team and a wretched 25.6 percent on their 39 three-point tries (10 makes.)

But as bad as the Bucks were offensively, the Nets were worse.

Brooklyn shot 33-of-102 (32.4 percent) from the field and 5-of-42 (11.9 percent!) from three.

Which is kind of a shame. Two teams that shoot a ton of threes and play fast should put up marvelously entertaining basketball, but all the 104.8 pace bought fans in this one was awful basketball played faster.

Except Giannis. Oh dear, beloved basketball gods, except Giannis.

Come and Have A Go If You Think You’re Harden-ough

James Harden shot 15-of-26 from the field, 5-of-13 from three, 9-of-11 from the line, and posted another you-gotta-be-kidding-me stat line with 44 points, his 27th straight game with at least 30 points, to go with eight rebounds and six assists.

The man is insane. If they gave MVP awards based purely on counting stats, this wouldn’t even be a conversation (well, besides Russell Westbrook averaging a triple-double for the third straight year.)

Only 11 Rockets suited up. Only eight played. And somehow, Harden willed them to a 118-110 road win over the Suns. Are you kidding me?

(OK, it was the Suns, fine.)

Thing is, the Suns actually didn’t play terrible basketball. They shot 53.6 percent from the field and got a nifty 23 points on 9-of-13 from Kelly Oubre off the bench.

They also turned it over 17 times, lost the rebounding battle, and couldn’t stop James Harden, so…there you go.

Highlights in a bearding sort of way:

DEE-TROIT BASKETBALL

The Pistons flummox the casual NBA observer.

After all, this is a team that for two straight years has started strong and then played like steaming hot garbage. Last year, they pulled it most of the way out of the fire to finish ninth, but they never truly threatened for a playoff spot.

This year? More of the same.

Yet they just smacked the crap out of Denver, one of the league’s best teams, at the Hot N’ Ready Monday night, winning 129-103.

It helped that Andre Drummond couldn’t miss, hitting 12-of-14 from the field and burying all three of his free throws to get 27 points.

The Pistons nailed 54.5 percent of their shots and 43.2 percent of their threes, and if they hadn’t turned the ball over 20 times, they would’ve won by even more than the 26-point slaughter that marked the final score.

This was, bluntly, a complete and utter thrashing that even included a Total Team Effort with seven Pistons in double figures.

Detroit is 23-29, but every so often, they show signs of the best they can be.

Total Team Highlights:

Lightning Round!

P.J. O’Rourke’s book “Holidays in Hell” could be the title of the Pacers’ narrow 109-107 win over the Pelicans, depending on how you feel about New Orleans as a travel destination.

Jrue Holiday had 19 points on 6-of-15 shooting for the Pellies; his brother Aaron Holiday had eight points off the bench on 2-of-5 shooting for the Pacers.

Meanwhile, Domantas Sabonis appears back on his old form, putting up 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting along with 13 rebounds, while Darren Collison put the team on his back and led the way with 22 points as the Pacers held off a big fourth-quarter charge from New Orleans.

Man, where are Victor Oladipo and Anthony Davis when you really need them?

Collison and Sabonis share man-of-the-match honors:

The Spurs were always going to be in danger of everything falling apart when they hit the road in February, and things are not off to a flying start.

Sacramento wrecked San Antonio 127-112, holding the Spurs to just 9-of-32 on three-pointers, hitting 13-of-32 themselves and shooting 55.6 percent overall, and getting 24 points from Marvin Bagley off the bench to lead the team in scoring.

Bagley also added 12 rebounds and a game-high plus-23 to his big sixth man performance.

And how about Yogi Ferrell with a perfect shooting night to get 19? Give some love to the G-League:

And finally, normally when Trae Young and John Collins stink out the joint, the Hawks get murdered.

Collins was 4-of-9, Young was a wretched 2-of-13, and the Hawks won 137-129 because the Wizards are a trash fire.

Atlanta players not named Collins or Young were a combined 40-of-70 (57.1 percent), the team hit half their shots overall, and nine (!!!) players scored in double figures, which I’m pretty sure hasn’t happened in the NBA yet this season until last night.

What a monster game deserving of praise…

…but Taurean Prince, with 21, is your man of the match:

Pacers Tuesday is coming…later. I’m working an offsite gig between now and Feb. 22, so the features schedule’s going to be a bit weird. Keep it tuned to @RealFoxD on Twitter for all the latest updates as they happen, and thanks for reading!