Keeping with what’s held true for much of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers played to the level of their competition Friday night but they ultimately came up short in a 131-120 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Bucks extended their road game winning streak to 10 games and clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Lakers were in position to notch an impressive win despite an inauspicious shooting start for Rajon Rondo.
While Rondo entered the night shooting a career-high 40 percent from deep, he missed five straight 3-pointers. He shot seven of them within the first six minutes, as the Staples Center crowd grew more anxious with each of the attempts, and went delirious when Rondo connected. That wound up being the start of a stretch where Rondo made 3-of-4 attempts from three.
As Rondo eventually found his shooting stroke, Brandon Ingram and LeBron James were instrumental to the Lakers taking a lead. Ingram made his first nine baskets before missing a 3-pointer early in the third quarter.
He was hardly deterred, following that up with a emphatic one-handed slam dunk over former teammate Brook Lopez. Ingram finished with a team-high 31 points.
Having stressed the importance of the Lakers not losing focus of the Bucks supporting cast, James defended Lopez for much of the night and managed to prevent him from doing much damage behind the arc.
The Lakers built up a double-digit lead only to squander it during the third quarter. Compounding matters was the Bucks’ run came while Giannis Antetokounmpo was on the bench.
L.A. responded to reclaim the lead and spent much of the fourth quarter going toe-to-toe with the Bucks. Two Lakers turnover, giving them just eight in the game, played a role in the Bucks going on an 8-0 mini run and taking control of the game with less than two minutes remaining.
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