In an anticipated showdown, the Los Angeles Lakers faltered as the Milwaukee Bucks made a clear statement they are the measuring stick of the NBA at this stage.
The Bucks used a huge second quarter to blow things open and held on late as they defeated the Lakers, 111-104. The loss marked the first time during the 2019-20 NBA season the Lakers suffered back-to-back defeats. In a matchup of the teams with the two best records in the NBA, it was the Bucks defense that was the difference.
Following a rough first quarter offensively for both teams, the Bucks took over in the second. LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined to shoot just 6-of-20 in the first half while reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo nearly notched a triple-double. The Lakers scored just 17 points in the first quarter, their fewest in any quarter this season while the 42 points the Bucks scored in the second were the most the Lakers have allowed.
The Lakers were able to climb back in the third quarter as Davis poured in 15 points. Danny Green was hot from deep and after both Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton picked up their fourth fouls, the Lakers were able to get things within single digits.
Unfortunately, a slow start to the fourth did them in. Antetokounmpo took over by showing off his improved range, knocking down his fifth three-pointer of the night early in the period to push the lead back to 14. The Lakers got as close as seven points, but late turnovers ended any hopes of a comeback.
Antetokounmpo staked his claim as MVP frontrunner with 34 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists while George Hill was huge for Milwaukee with 21 points off the bench.
Davis was outstanding with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks. James posted a triple-double with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists, but shot just 8-of-19 from the field and had a pair of crucial late turnovers. He did, however, pass Gary Payton for ninth on the NBA’s all-time assists list.
Green had his best game since Opening Night with 21 points on seven threes while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also had a nice night with 18 points. But the Lakers got next to nothing from their bench with just four total points.
The Lakers will return home from this road trip for a matchup with the Denver Nuggets before another highly-anticipated meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day.