The Los Angeles Lakers fell back to .500 after Wednesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks despite showing signs of improvement against the NBA champions.
Talen Horton-Tucker impressed again, leading L.A. in both scoring and rebounding with 25 points and 12 boards. The Lakers also managed to come out focused and determined for the third quarter having struggled with consistency after halftime ever since the 2021-22 season’s tip-off.
Los Angeles squared up to the Bucks without LeBron James again. The four-time NBA champion missed his eighth game in a row with a strained abdominal. Trevor Ariza, Kendrick Nunn and Austin Reaves joined James on the sidelines.
Unlike L.A., Milwaukee saw two previously unavailable veterans — Khris Middleton and Grant Hill — recover in time to return to play on Wednesday. Middleton played a major role in the Bucks’ run early in the fourth quarter, sinking two quick 3s that ultimately sealed their victory and pushed L.A. down to 8-8.
After the game, Anthony Davis said the Lakers need to weather the storm with the personnel they currently have — and then assess how their stars’ return can help the team bounce back from the difficult start to the season.
“We put a team together and we haven’t seen it yet. [Trevor Ariza] hasn’t played, [Kendrick Nunn] hasn’t played, [LeBron James] has played limited, [Talen Horton-Tucker] just coming back, [Malik Monk] didn’t play to start and he’s getting back,” he said.
“So it’s a lot, it’s kind of like the same thing last year, you know?
“But it’s a part of the game, same thing with the team we just played, they’ve had injuries as well. And then it just kind of goes with the league, it’s the business of the game, you go out there and put your body on the line every night, God forbid, but something is bound to happen where in the course of a season, somebody is going to get hurt and we got to adjust.”
Davis looks forward to team-bonding on road trip
Despite chalking up a defeat to start the five-game road trip, Davis said he thought the Lakers had a good night against the Bucks but ultimately paid the price for the missed shots late in the game. L.A. has four games away from home, traveling to New England next for a blockbuster clash with the Boston Celtics.
Davis said he looked forward to spending extra time with his Lakers teammates as they travel across the country.
“Yeah, we always try to find ways to stay together,” he said. “That’s what it’s about, that’s what the road is for, for guys to be able to go to dinners and have that team-bonding, that team morale that you need when you’re on the road.
“And it’s a good test for us. We haven’t been on the road much this year and now we’ve got four games left. Some guys might come back, some might not, but it’s our job to kind of stay together, especially when you’re on the road, that’s when you need each other the most.
And that’s what we were doing, we’re a tight-knit group and we’re gonna continue to fight and find our way. And there’s no better place to do it than on the road.”
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