The Bucks saved what was arguably their best performance of the season for the last day of the calendar year. Of course they did. The Bucks jumped out to a 10-0 lead and didn't relinquish the double digit advantage until the second half, as they completed a wire-to-wire victory in Tinseltown, handling the Lakers 94-79.
Brandon Knight led the charge offensively with a career-high 37 points. That is more than Lakers players not named Pau Gasol or Nick Young had combined. Knight went bananas in the third quarter, dropping 18 points on 8-12 shooting and 2-5 from three. Though the Laker defense was more porous than a year-old sponge, Knight was attacking beautifully, balancing made jumpers and aggressive treks to the rim. Everything was working. It was a great (K)night.
On the other end of the court, Larry Sanders went full LARRY SANDERS!, causing all kinds of problems. Sanders was back to his elite ways, altering every shot in his vicinity in a wide variety of ways. The blocks are great--he did this--but the activity and energy he brings protecting the rim is the reason why he inked that extension in the summer, and tonight he started to show why he's worth it. He also used said energy on the offensive end with four offensive rebounds and seven points on baskets strictly around the hoop, which is always a welcome sight.
Outside of Knight and Sanders, veterans Ersan Ilyasova and Luke Ridnour
helped make their trade value look slightly more appealing had their best games in a while, with Ersan posting 15p/12r on 7-15 shooting and Ridnour contributing 11p/4r/3a on 5-11 shooting. For Ilyasova, any performance that didn't result in some form of depression is nice. Though he didn't make a three, Ersan's slump may have been temporarily snapped as a result of some incredibly easy looks at the hoop in the beginning that no doubt took some of the pressure off. Hobo Ersan was one of the best Bucks photoshops in a while, but it is much nicer to see him playing like regular Ersan, for whatever reason you desire.
I know you were worried, but I did not forget about Giannis Antetokounmpo. I never ever will. Giannis chipped in with 8p/11r, making his biggest splash with this amazing tip slam in the first quarter. Though he still has fundamental growth in every area of his game that needs to be made (duh), the spectacular with Giannis has become the routine, which is just...ridiculous. He just turned 19 and already has a deep YouTube highlight video archive. Jeez.
This was probably the Bucks' most complete game of the year, even if it was just one injured, struggling team against another one. That being said, the Bucks did a pretty good job of not letting the Lakers get too many opportunities to claw back into the contest, holding them to 35.8 percent shooting from the field and 29.2 percent from three while winning the rebounding battle 51-39 and limiting their turnover number to seven.