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Horford says Giannis Antetokounmpo stare down “didn’t sit well with me,” motivated him

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Four

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 09: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks stares at Al Horford #42 of the Boston Celtics following a score during the second half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at Fiserv Forum on May 09, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

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To Al Horford, Giannis Antetokounmpo started it.

What ended with Horford scoring a career playoff-high 30 points — 16 of those in the fourth quarter — and leading the Celtics to a series-tying Game 4 win started when Giannis dunked on Horford and stared him down.

Antetokounmpo got an undeserved technical foul for the staredown (if that level of taunting is worthy of a technical, then there will be 50 a game), but Horford said it was that moment that motivated the rest of his night. Via NBC Sports Boston:

“I don’t know what he said to me, but the way he was looking at me and the way he was going about it really didn’t sit well with me,” he said. “At that point, I think something switched with me in the game”

Horford’s sister knew things were about to change.

Horford was on fire to start the fourth. He and Jayson Tatum started the quarter shooting 11-of-11 for a combined 28 points that gave the Celtics a lead they would never relinquish. That included Horford returning the favor and dunking on Antetokounmpo.

Horford picked up his own undeserved technical on that one (for a hand to Antetokounmpo’s face, but if that face is next to the shooter’s hand because the defender is close to him going for the block and the hit is unintentional, what exactly are we penalizing here? This and the foul given Devin Booker for the follow-through on his jump shot are signs the referees have taken things too far).

The Celtics could use more of that Horford as they head home for a critical Game 5 on Wednesday.