The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks and clinched their first playoff berth since the 2012-13 NBA season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo made his presence felt early on, scoring 10 of the Bucks’ first 13 points in the first quarter. The Lakers struggled to get things going on the offensive end and converted just two of their first 12 field goal attempts.
Three consecutive baskets by Anthony Davis and LeBron James helped Los Angeles pull to within one point of Milwaukee at the 4:30 mark. The Bucks responded with five unanswered points, once again padding their lead as the Lakers’ shooting woes resurfaced.
An Alex Caruso floating bank shot ended a lengthy drought with just over a minute to play in the first. Los Angeles tacked on five additional points during that span, highlighted by a buzzer-beating layup from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and trailed the Bucks 22-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Caldwell-Pope kicked off the team’s scoring efforts in the second quarter with a pull-up jump shot, but Brook Lopez quickly answered back by draining his second three-pointer of the night. He added another one at the 8:17 mark, forcing Lakers head coach Frank Vogel to call a timeout.
Despite at one point trailing the Bucks 39-28, the Lakers would slowly chip away at the deficit. A Caruso three-pointer and pair of free throws made by Kyle Kuzma and Avery Bradley brought Los Angeles back to a two-point margin.
With just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Lakers took their first lead of the game on a slam dunk by James. The two teams traded baskets until a late three-pointer by Kuzma allowed Los Angeles to even up the score at 48 apiece entering halftime.
To start the second half, the Lakers went on an 18-0 run to take their first significant lead at 68-55.
While the Bucks went on some runs, James and Davis responded each and every time. As James finished with a near triple-double (37 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists), Davis had a near double-double (30 points and nine rebounds).