The Los Angeles Lakers don’t like losing back-to-back games. They also don’t like losing on the road. With the Lakers facing arguably their toughest test this season, LeBron James stepped up in a big way and made sure neither happened.
James finished with 34 points, eight rebounds and six assists while the Lakers knocked down 19 3-pointers to kick off their seven-game road trip with a 113-106 victory over one of the Eastern Conference favorites in the Milwaukee Bucks.
Following a disappointing home loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers were determined to bounce back against the Bucks in a potential NBA Finals preview. The win improved the Lakers’ record to an NBA best 12-4 and they remain undefeated on the road at 8-0.
James shot 13-for-25 from the field and knocked down 6-of-10 from 3-point range while also putting the game away with a huge dunk late in the fourth quarter. LeBron was clearly locked in from the beginning and looked to establish himself offensively in the back-and-forth contest, but he had a lot of help along the way.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had his best game of the season and continues to be one of the best shooters in the NBA . Caldwell-Pope finished with a season-high 23 points and knocked down 7-of-10 from 3-point range, including a running 3 to beat the buzzer at halftime.
Caldwell-Pope also drained a clutch 3-pointer from the corner late in the game. He has now hit double-figure scoring in four of the last five games.
Matched up with reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo for most of the night, Anthony Davis struggled offensively with 18 points on 8-for-18 shooting. But as is usually the case, he contributed everywhere with nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks.
This was a matchup of different styles as the Lakers brought the NBA’s best defense against the Bucks and their league-best offense. Following a first quarter in which they allowed 33 Milwaukee points, the Lakers allowed just 73 points the rest of the way, imposing their will and limiting the Bucks’ from 3-point range where they normally thrive.
Instead it was the Lakers shooting over 51% from deep, capped off by Alex Caruso’s clutch corner 3 to ice the game for good. Strong shooting made up for the Lakers’ struggles in places they’re usually excellent at as the Bucks dominated in both transition scoring and points in the paint.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 25 points and 12 rebounds, but also had nine turnovers and fouled out of the game late in the fourth. Jrue Holday added 22 points, while Khris Middleton finished with 20.
Next up for the Lakers
The Lakers continue their road trip on Saturday as they look to sweep their season series with the Bulls, followed by a trip to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Monday.
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