Giannis Antetokounmpo was ready to "fight" Blake Griffin during the Milwaukee Bucks' fiery 127-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
Antetokounmpo scored 35 points as the Bucks extended their hot streak to 13 consecutive wins – their best run since 16 victories in succession spanning the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons.
Milwaukee also boast a dominant recent record against Detroit, having won all eight encounters across the regular season and playoffs last term before prevailing in the initial 2019-20 matchup.
Tempers threatened to boil over during win number 10 against embattled opponents, with Antetokounmpo and Griffin's initial altercation coming after a second-quarter collision.
In the third, Milwaukee's Khris Middleton confronted Griffin after the Pistons star stepped over a prone Antetokounmpo, who was on the floor after being fouled.
"There's going to be a lot of teams that are going to come out and try to be physical with me -- try to hit me, knock me down to the floor," Antetokounmpo told reporters. "I just got to keep my composure.
"At first, I was trying to ... talk back, let them know that this is more than basketball. We can stop playing basketball and we can fight.
"At the end of the day, my team-mates want me in the game, my teammates want me to keep my head in the game and I was like, 'whatever'. At this point, 'whatever'."
Antetokounmpo was grateful for the intervention from Middleton, who scored 17 points.
"I was on the floor, I didn't see exactly what happened, but I saw Khris going out defending me. That's my big brother," he added.
"It means a lot. I always had his back, but now I have it even more."
"Seeing Khris going out there defending me... that's my big bro. It means a lot. I always had his back, but now I have it even more." pic.twitter.com/1YuSWLZWZG— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 5, 2019
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer felt his team channelled any frustration with Detroit's roughhousing effectively.
"I liked our fire in the second quarter. I liked our fire in general," he told reporters.
"I think the guys, they're in a good place. They're playing good basketball. So we'll keep it going."
Milwaukee with look to extend their purple patch when they host the LA Clippers on Friday, when the Pistons welcome the Indiana Pacers.
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