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#pounditTuesday, April 23, 2024

Damian Lillard shares 1 message Giannis Antetokounmpo gave him

Damian Lillard takes a shot

Oct 20, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) warms up before the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks will be Giannis Antetokounmpo’s team for as long as he chooses to remain with them, but the two-time MVP expects the court to belong to someone else late in the fourth quarter of games this season.

Damian Lillard scored 14 points in the final four minutes on Thursday night to lead the Bucks to a 118-117 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The star point guard finished with 39 points. According to Lillard, that is the exact vision Giannis had for his new teammate.

Lillard told reporters after Thursday’s win that he and Antetokounmpo sat and talked for several hours the first time Lillard visited the Bucks’ facility to conduct a physical. Giannis told Lillard that he wants Lillard to be the one closing out games.

“And from the day I got here, I walked in — literally, I was in the facility for probably five minutes — before Giannis walked in and I was supposed to be doing all these physicals,” Lillard recalled, via Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I ended up getting my physical at like 1 a.m. or something because me and him sat there for a long time and talked. And one of the main things he kept saying was I’m (going to) do what I do and I want you to do what you do. And you close out games. We know that’s what you do, and that’s what we need you to do here.”

Lillard buried a 3-pointer with 1:13 remaining in Thursday night’s game to give the Bucks a 116-111 lead.

Tobias Harris answered with a 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to cut the deficit to 116-114. On the next possession, Giannis went out of his way to get the ball to Lillard. The 33-year-old cut to the basket and was fouled by Joel Embiid with 11.1 seconds left to play. Lillard hit both free throws to essentially ice the game.

Lillard won’t be as good in the fourth quarter every game as he was against the 76ers, but it is clear the Bucks want him to have the ball in his hands during those situations.

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