The Los Angeles Lakers began their five-game East Coast road trip with a game against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, hoping to get back in the win column.
Unfortunately though, they were unable to do that as Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated to the tune of 47 points to lead the Bucks to a 109-102 win over the Lakers.
The Lakers got off to a hot shooting start, knocking down three of their first five threes. The only problem was that they had no answer for Antetokounmpo early as the two=time MVP scored Milwaukee’s first eight points to cut the Lakers’ early lead to 13-8.
Midway through the first quarter, the Lakers earned their first double-digit lead of the night as Talen Horton-Tucker knocked down his second three of the night and then Carmelo Anthony drained one from mid-range to make it 20-10.
Using Antetokounmpo as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll though, the Bucks quickly got back in it as the Lakers weren’t sure if they should switch or have Anthony Davis get through screens, leading to some easy buckets. Once Antetokounmpo started knocking down threes himself, the Bucks took their first lead, although Rajon Rondo beat the first-quarter buzzer with a three to give the Lakers a 32-30 lead.
With both Davis and Antetokounmpo on the bench to start the second, the scoring slowed down a bit for both teams.
Once Antetokounmpo re-entered though, the Lakers continued to have no answer for him and the Bucks were able to take back the lead and extended it to double digits at 64-53 going into the halftime locker room. Antetokounmpo had an impressive 28 points on 12-of-13 shooting.
Anthony got the scoring started in the third quarter with a three and two Lakers layups cut the deficit to five, although Antetokounmpo and Grayson Allen responded with back-to-back threes of their own to get their lead back up to a dozen.
From there the Lakers went on a nice run though with Anthony, Horton-Tucker and Wayne Ellington all making threes while the defense stiffened up to cut the deficit all the way to one.
Horton-Tucker continued his strong play by getting to the rim at will to end the third quarter, although the Bucks still led 85-83 through three.
Khris Middleton, who missed the last couple of weeks due to health and safety protocols, started off slow but finally got going in the fourth, knocking down back-to-back threes to extend Milwaukee’s lead to five.
Credit to the Lakers for continuing to play hard and going toe-to-toe with the defending champions without their best player in LeBron James, even with some unfortunate calls going against them.
Ultimately though, L.A. just did not have enough firepower to keep up with Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Co. and the result was a close loss.
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