Kia MVP Ladder Giannis and Luka battle Mort surges into Top

Milwaukees iconic superstar is passing every litmus test so far.

Relive highlights from the last Luka Doncic vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo showdown on Nov. 27.

Fling one ladder to the floor only to rise a couple rungs toward the top of the Kia Race to the MVP Ladder.

Thats the feat Giannis Antetokounmpo pulled off in rebounding from what he called the ladder incident in the aftermath of a Nov. 18 loss at Philadelphia. Since that night at Wells Fargo Center, the Milwaukee Bucks star has scored at least 30 points in a career-high eight consecutive games in leading the team to a 6-2 record, as it prepped for Fridays road clash against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

Giannis and the Buckswon that clashat American Airlines Center, which featured the NBAs top two scorers, Doncic (32.9 points per game) and Antetokounmpo (32.1 ppg), leading a pair of clubs on three-game winning streaks.

Since the ladder incident, I realized Ive just got to be more locked in, Antetokounmpo said. Ive got to focus on my work, focus on my craft, focus on my body, focus on how I can get healthy, how I can still improve my game. Nothing is [taken] for granted in this game.

I think when I get in that mindset, I enjoy the game more, and Im able to create more opportunities for myself to be successful and help my team be successful. I think its contagious. I felt like after that Philly game, I had to bring good energy, the fun energy back to the team [and] lead by example. Thats what Ive done. Thats what Im gonna continue to do.

Is there any defense this season that can slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo?

He certainly brought the juice to Dallas on Friday, putting up 28 points and 10 rebounds in Milwaukees thrilling one-point win. The game fell in line with previous climactic meetings between the two teams. Six of the previous seven meetings between these squads were decided by single digits, with Milwaukee besting the Mavs in two of the last three.

Dallas coach Jason Kidd considered the game against Antetokounmpo and the Bucks just another measuring stick for a Mavericks team finally starting to hit its stride after a series of tweaks to the lineups and rotations. Dallas suffered through its longest losing streak of the season last month, dropping four in a row over the span of a week (Nov. 20-27) before winning four of its next five with Doncic reeling off at least 30 points in four of those outings.

The latest Kia MVP Ladder is here, and Michael C. Wright breaks it down as Jayson Tatum retains the top spot and Anthony Davis enters the chat.

The 23-year-old notched his league-leading sixth triple-double (the Mavs are 5-1 in those games this season) with 22 points during Tuesdays win in Denver. Additionally, hes scored 20 points or more in a career-high 32 straight games dating back to last March.

Its a marathon, Kidd explained. People have to understand you dont win an award for the first 20 [games]. You get to learn about your team. You get to learn about each other. Were gonna be judged publicly every night. That just comes with the territory. But internally, we truly believe that were going in the right direction. Its making a couple of open shots here, getting a couple of rebounds there. Right now, youre starting to see this team come together and believe. Theres a lot of good things that we can learn from. But the week gets harder. Well get some rest and get ready for Milwaukee.

Antetokounmpo moves to No. 2 in this weeks edition of Kia Race to the MVP Ladder, while Doncic falls back a spot to No. 3.

Boston Celtics superstar Jayson Tatum maintains his standing at the top.

And now, the top 5 in the 2022-23 Kia Race to the MVP Ladder:

Season stats:30.5 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 4.1 apg

Expect the rematch of the 2022 NBA Finals on Saturday at Golden State (8:30 ET, ABC) to look different than what we saw back in May because the Tatum were seeing now isnt the same guy that ran out of gas down the stretch last season. Hes on a mission and provided more evidence of that Wednesday in leading Boston to its second largest margin of victory (27 points) of the season in a 125-98 trouncing of the Suns and fellow MVP candidate Devin Booker. The Celtics arenow 14-4 this seasonwhen Tatum and Jaylen Brown each score 20 points or more. Boston is also 10-2 this season against teams that are .500 or better.

Take a look at some of Jayson Tatums best plays of the 2022-23 season so far!

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Season stats:32.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 5.6 apg

Currently tied for the second-longest30-point scoring streak(eight games) in Milwaukee franchise history, Antetokounmpo trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbars mark of 16-straight games with 30 points or more (set during the 1971-72 season). If Im able to have another one, I would love to have another one. But I hope we win the game [at Dallas], Antetokounmpo said. If I have another one and lose the game it doesnt really matter. We are 18-6, second-best record in the league. We have to keep on going. We have to keep on building. We have a very good team. We have great characters, people that love to play the game of basketball the right way, people that love to win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo goes off for 40 points in a loss to the Lakers.

Season stats:32.9 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 8.7 apg

Doncic owns the Mavs franchise-record for triple-doubles (52), but whats wild is the 23-year-old missed out on potential triple-doubles by either one rebound or one assist on 19 occasions throughout his short career. Were just a quarter of the way into the season, but theres no shortage ofhighlightsfeaturing Doncic, who is continuing to improve as a facilitator. The point guard showcased as much in reading the defense andfinding Dorian Finney-Smithfor the game-winning bucket Tuesday against the Nuggets. By the way, Doncic needs only one more 35-point game to tie Oscar Robertson (55) for the fifth-most 35-point games by a player 23 or younger in NBA history.

At the quarter mark of the season, take a look at some of Luka Doncics best plays!

Season stats:23.5 ppg, 10 rpg, 8.9 apg

On the verge of falling out of the top five, Jokic helped Denver maintain fourth place in the West while halting a three-game skid (the Nuggets longest of the season) with 33 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists on 56% from the field ina 121-120 winThursday in Portland. That cameafterthe Trail Blazers almost triumphed thanks to astrong night from Damian Lillard(40 points, 12 assists). Jokics double-double was his 16th of the season, and he produced his 21st career outing with 30 points or more to go with 10 or more rebounds and nine or more assists.

Nikola Jokic finishes with 33 points and 10 rebounds against Portland.

Season stats:28.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 7.6 apg

Now within a half game of first in the West, Memphis lost four of the first five games that shooting guard Desmond Bane missed due to a right big toe injury. That stretch left some to wonder whether Morant could get it done without his backcourt running mate. Well, after that bump in the road, the Grizzlies have captured victories in six of their last seven with Morant posting hissixth career triple-doublein Wednesdays win against Oklahoma City. Morant is now the Grizzliesfranchise leader in triple-doubles, and as expected, hecredited his teammatesfor this latest milestone.

Ja Morant makes some triple-double history in a win against the Thunder.

6.Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns(Last weeks ranking: No. 5)

T-7.Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers(Last weeks ranking: No. 9)

T-7.Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets(Last weeks ranking: No. 7)

9.Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers(Last weeks ranking: not ranked)

10.Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans(Last weeks ranking: not ranked)

And five more (listed alphabetically):Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics; Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers; DeAaron Fox, Sacramento Kings; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for m. You can e-mail himhere, find his archivehereand follow him onTwitter.

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