I will not comment on the horrendous officiating last night, or the incredulous one-sided commentary by ESPN’s talking heads throughout the Bucks loss.
What I will say, though, is that the Bucks were one decent performance by Khris Middleton or Eric Bledsoe away from walking out of Staples Center sweeping the regular-season series versus the Lakers 2-0. They will have to settle for a split...for now.
Giannis Antetokounmpo played his ass off in a narrow defeat.
We knew all about the narratives coming into this game, and I am sure the ones to follow last night’s loss will only be more ridiculous and stupid. However, Giannis went toe-to-toe with LeBron James all Friday night. He also got the best of Anthony Davis multiple times on offense and defense. With the Bucks offense going nowhere in the second half, Giannis (and Donte DiVincenzo) were the only Bucks showing signs of life. Antetokounmpo grinded his way to 32 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists in 36 minutes. He nearly orchestrated a miraculous fourth-quarter rally when it looked like the Lakers had all of the momentum and were going to blow the game wide-open. While he did force it at times in the fourth with his jumper and three-point attempts early in the shot clock, he was still able to get to his spots. He finished 10-of-21 from the field and 11-of-14 from the line. However, he could have suffered a very serious injury after converting a layup late in the fourth quarter after Avery Bradley flopped to the ground like a fish out of water. Just a dangerous, unnecessary play. So much for protecting the stars, NBA. #BanTheCharge
Did Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe get off the bus?
Wow, talk about laying an egg...both of these players struggled from the opening tip and could not buy a basket. Khris Middleton was put in a straitjacket by Danny Green and Eric Bledsoe was forcing the issue multiple times. They combined to shoot 10-of-32 from the field with eight turnovers...just yikes. With how poorly both of these guys played, the Bucks were lucky to only lose by 10. Albeit a regular-season game, it would have been nice to see at least one of them finish with a useful stat line in what could be an NBA Finals preview. Anyways, the Bucks will not win many games when both Bledsoe and Middleton struggle offensively.
Welcome to the Donte DiVincenzo show.
He has quickly asserted himself as a go-to option offensively when the Bucks are in a drought. He dropped 17 points, three rebounds, and four assists in 25 minutes off the bench. He was doing the typical “Donte” things against the Lakers, scrapping for offensive rebounds, playing pesky defense, and knocking down catch-and-shoot three-pointers. He was on fire in the fourth when he and Giannis put the team on their backs to try and carry them to the finish line. Even though they came up short, the recent ascension of DiVincenzo’s game has elevated the ceiling of this Bucks team by a decent amount. He is the guy you love to have on your team but would absolutely hate playing against.
- Robin Lopez was...TERRIBLE
- Wesley Matthews did a solid job at defending LeBron James in the early going, but that was short-lived. His three-point stroke has also gone ice cold as of late, too.
- Brook Lopez was great in 29 minutes. He scored 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting before fouling out. He got into foul trouble due to many questionable foul calls which made him alter the way he defended the paint.