Bouncing back from a disappointing loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers got back on track in Milwaukee.
A monster night from LeBron James combined with some hot shooting overall took care of the Bucks, who failed to complete a fourth-quarter comeback.
The Lakers now improve to a league best 12-4 on the season, while the Bucks slip to 9-6.
Vintage LeBron shot closes the door on Milwaukee
When Brook Lopez switched on to LeBron James on the perimeter everyone knew exactly what was coming.
In a shot LeBron has made his own over the course of his career, an easy as you like step-back three from well beyond the arc provided the final dagger in this one.
LeBron (34 PTS) extends the lead late with his 6th three of the night on TNT! pic.twitter.com/Uylqt6dXbt- NBA (@NBA) January 22, 2021
Finishing with 34 points, six rebounds and eight assists, James consistently hurt the Milwaukee defence from the outside, connecting on six of ten attempts from three.
The win gives LeBron a 16-5 edge in head-to-head battles with Antetokounmpo, who suffered through a frustrating night of his own.
Turnovers and foul trouble hamper Giannis
Posting a final stat line of 25 points and 11 rebounds on 11-for-17 from the field, the box score hides the frustating nature of the game for the MVP, who battled foul trouble and turnovers all night long.
The nine giveaways are the most of his career in a single game, while he ultimately fouled out in the final minute.
Critical stretch haunts Milwaukee
Postgame, Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer lamented the end of the first half for Milwaukee, citing a lack of urgency that ultimately proved costly.
"I felt like the last four, five minutes of the second quarter..both ends of the court we were not good, we were not sharp like you need to be for 48 minutes," Budenholzer told reporters.
After taking a 49-43 lead with 5:31 left in the second quarter on a made triple from Khris Middleton, the Bucks appeared to be maintaining control of the game.
2.3 seconds is plenty of time for KCP!- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) January 22, 2021
The @Lakers lead @Bucks 63-57 at the half.
📲🖥: NBA LP - https://t.co/v0VORBFflA pic.twitter.com/pHEzwz1uAn
Capped by a LeBron triple at the 11:21 mark of the third quarter, the Lakers responded by going on a game defining 26-8 run, opening up a 12-point lead. Poor shot selection and ugly turnovers hampered Milwaukee during the run. Five triples came in that pivotal stretch, including three by the red-hot Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
You simply can't afford to give up a run like that against the best in the league, and the Lakers made the Bucks pay dearly.
Giannis denies LeBron..twice!
Despite having a tough night overall, the 2020 defensive player of the year did come up with two highlight reel denials of LeBron, with the first coming early in the game with this swat off the backboard.
LeBron, meet the DPOY!!#FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/xy5sVssOoE- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 22, 2021
The second was arguably even more impressive, with James taking it hard to the basket looking for the dunk before Antetokounmpo rose up to meet him at the top.
👀 pic.twitter.com/VjDkrZHUad- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 22, 2021
Los Angeles shooters continue to show up
The game against Milwaukee was the continuation of some hot shooting from the outside as a team for Los Angeles.
Finishing 19-for-37 (51.4 percent) from range, the Lakers continually found open shooters against the Bucks defence. Averaging just 32.4 3-point attempts per game (23rd in the league) the Lakers are now up to 40 percent on the season, good for a tie for the third best mark across the NBA.
Los Angeles continue the road trip by visiting the Chicago Bulls after on day off. Milwaukee was originally scheduled to play a back-to-back against Washington at home. With that game postponed, they will enjoy two nights off before hosting Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.
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