‘Greek Freak’ leads Bucks rout

San Francisco Chronicle - - NBA - By Ron Kroichick Ron Kroichick is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: rkroichick@sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @ronkroichick

War­riors for­ward Jor­dan Bell took his turn Thurs­day night. So did Kevon Looney and Kevin Durant and, ev­ery now and then, Damian Jones.

They all re­ceived a rude, all-too-vivid re­minder: Mil­wau­kee’s Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo is nick­named “The Greek Freak” for a rea­son.

An­te­tok­oun­mpo spun through the lane to draw fouls, soared sky­ward for elec­tri­fy­ing dunks and emerged from nowhere to em­phat­i­cally block shots. He scored 24 points and grabbed nine re­bounds as the Bucks rolled to a 134-111 vic­tory at Or­a­cle Arena.

Just like that, the War­riors (10-2) looked em­i­nently vul­ner­a­ble and the Bucks (9-2) val­i­dated their fast start to the sea­son. One day ear­lier, Stephen Curry had com­pared th­ese Bucks to the War­riors of 2014-15, who climbed to an­other level — and won the NBA cham­pi­onship — be­hind the lead­er­ship of then-new head coach Steve Kerr.

Curry’s point: Mil­wau­kee’s new head coach, Mike Bu­den­holzer, could “un­lock” the po­ten­tial the Bucks have showed the past few years. Thurs­day night’s game of­fered com­pelling ev­i­dence to sup­port the the­ory.

The equa­tion starts with An­te­tok­oun­mpo, who stands 6-foot-11 and has arms reach­ing half­way to the stars. He also owns the agility and ball-han­dling skills to make de­fend­ing him a dis­tinc­tive, crazy-dif­fi­cult chal­lenge.

An­te­tok­oun­mpo re­peat­edly drew fouls, fin­ish­ing 10-for-11 at the line.

“He’s a mis­match prob­lem, es­pe­cially with bigs guard­ing him,” Durant said af­ter the game. “... They throw it to him at the top of the key and it’s like a mini-fast break. He’s way more ath­letic than the bigs guard­ing him, so he can get to the cup pretty easy.”

Durant clearly is a big fan of An­te­tok­oun­mpo. Last year, Durant said, “I’ve never seen any­thing like him. He could end up be­ing the best player to ever play if he re­ally wanted. That’s pretty scary to think about. He’s by far my fa­vorite player to watch.”

An­te­tok­oun­mpo had 19 points and seven re­bounds in the first half. Then, early in the third quar­ter, he charged through the lane and scored in heavy traf­fic, shoot­ing over Jones while Curry un­suc­cess­fully tried to help.

An­te­tok­oun­mpo ul­ti­mately got into foul trou­ble, pick­ing up his fifth late in the third quar­ter. By then, the Bucks had the game well in hand — in part be­cause they have sev­eral good play­ers, in­clud­ing guards Eric Bled­soe (26 points) and Mal­colm Brog­don (20).

As for the War­riors, Bell re­placed Dray­mond Green (sprained right foot/big toe) in the start­ing lineup and put him­self squarely in An­te­tok­oun­mpo’s path.

The War­riors’ first pos­ses­sion was promis­ing: Bell took a pass from Curry, as­sertively drove the lane and made a nice bank shot. Then, on Mil­wau­kee’s sub­se­quent pos­ses­sion, re­al­ity struck: An­te­tok­oun­mpo roared through the lane and drew a foul on Bell. He picked up his sec­ond foul only 4:47 into the game — again, thanks to An­te­tok­oun­mpo — and quickly headed to the bench.

“He’s very hard not to foul,” Bell said. “He’s so long and ath­letic, you kind of panic.”

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

The Bucks’ Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo drives on the War­riors’ Klay Thomp­son en route to 24 points in Mil­wau­kee’s romp.

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