Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden react to ball-to-face moment during Rockets-Bucks game
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo darted a fireball no-look whip pass to the right corner in the fourth quarter against the Houston Rockets, nailing fellow MVP candidate James Harden squarely in the face by accident:
Giannis with a rocket at Harden's head 😳 pic.twitter.com/aLVsgeOWX7
— ESPN (@espn) January 10, 2019
The basketball bounced so hard off Harden’s face that it ricocheted back to Antetokounmpo, who then found an open Ersan Ilyasova for a lightly contested trifecta.
“I was like, ‘Oh, my bad,’” Antetokounmpo said, according to Matt Velasquez of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “I told him, obviously when we were walking down the floor, ‘My bad.’ I didn’t mean to hit him in the head, I was trying to hit the guy in the corner… It was pretty hard.”
Harden surely felt the after-effects of such a power-laced whip pass from a 6-foot-11 behemoth, being merely an innocent bystander when the ball approached him from only a few feet away.
“Hell no, I didn’t see it coming,” Harden said after the loss to the Bucks. “That (expletive) hurt. I didn’t even know what happened.”
What added insult to injury was that Harden acted as a reflective pin, not only getting knocked down and dazed by the sheer force of the pass, but involuntarily serving it back up to Antetokounmpo, who found his target the second time around.
“It was crazy because it was so hard the ball to be able to bounce from one side of the floor to the other side of the floor – that’s how you know how hard the pass was,” Antetokounmpo said. “It was an accident, obviously, but I’m so happy it bounced back to me and Ersan was able to hit the three.”
Harden’s 42 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the game weren’t enough to stop a Bucks team that had him bamboozled in the second half with tactics that did more than daze him like Antetokounmpo’s bullet did at the 9:02 mark of the fourth quarter.