Charlotte Hornets

How do the Hornets plan to guard the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo? Think tag team

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and four turnovers in a home loss Tuesday to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and forward Paul George.
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and four turnovers in a home loss Tuesday to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and forward Paul George. AP

It takes a village to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo.

That sums up the Charlotte Hornets’ approach to Wednesday night’s home game against the Milwaukee Bucks. Antetokounmpo, a 6-11 forward from Greece with skills like a point guard, leads the NBA in scoring this season at 33.7 points per game. He is seventh in field-goal percentage at 63.2 percent and 13th in rebounding at 10.3 per game.

Antetokounmpo is clearly on a path toward Most Valuable Player contention. In the Hornets’ 103-94 road loss in Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo finished with 32 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford said power forward Marvin Williams would start out guarding Antetokounmpo, as Williams did in the previous game. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (out for the first meeting) and Treveon Graham will also likely guard Antetokounmpo. A fourth option is rookie Dwayne Bacon.

What did Williams experience that first game, and what are his defensive priorities tonight?

“There are so many things he’s able to do, so many different ways he’s able to affect the game, not only offensively but defensively as well,” Williams said. “He’s so good in transition; so big, so long, so athletic. He’s able to make plays for himself and others as well.

“The biggest thing to slowing him down is keeping him out of the paint, but that is easier said than done.”

Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Antetokounmpo is setting a pace for made shots within three feet of the basket that stretches back to the mid-1990s.

Clifford said much of Antetokounmpo’s best work comes when the Bucks aren’t running set plays; when a defense gets stretched out, he’s particularly effective at breaking down his primary defender.

MCW
The Charlotte Hornets sent point guard Michael Carter-Williams to the G-League Greensboro Swarm on a rehab assignment. He has yet to play this season due to soreness in both knees. David T. Foster III dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

MCW back from Greensboro

Point guard Michael Carter-Williams’ rehab assignment with the G-League Greensboro Storm lasted a single practice.

The Hornets recalled Carter-Williams in time for him to participate in shootaround Wednesday. He participated in a 15-minute scrimmage in Greensboro on a day the Hornets were off from practice Tuesday.

Carter-Williams hasn’t played yet, after injections of platelet-rich plasma in both knees to treat soreness this summer.

“It was good for me to get up and down (the court), and get my wind and my timing,” said Carter-Williams, slated to back up starter Kemba Walker this season. “It was good to run the plays, too. We run the same plays” with the Hornets and Swarm.

Hornets general manager Rich Cho said it’s possible Carter-Williams could play at some point in the upcoming road trip, four games in San Antonio, Minneapolis, New York and Boston.

Clifford didn’t sound like that’s likely.

“It’s conceivable if we took (another) injury, but the guy hasn’t gone up and down (more than occasionally) since last May. He couldn’t play very many minutes,” Clifford said.

Clifford said that with Carter-Williams new to the Hornets (he signed as a free agent in July), he’s probably better off practicing with the parent team than playing games with the Swarm.

“He needs to be here, because he’s also learning our stuff,” Clifford said. “It’s different if you’re sending a guy down (to the G-League) who’s been with you two or three years.”

Bonnell: 704-358-5129: @rick_bonnell

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