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Milwaukee vs. Los Angeles: Lakers Close the Door on the Bucks, 133-129

Bucks unable to make the final push

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

In a back-and-forth game at Fiserv Forum, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to prevail with a slim victory, 133-129.

Khris Middleton would get the start in his first game back from injury. In the first quarter, he’d find his footing by putting in six minutes of action, resulting in two points. Following one period of play, the Lakers held a slight advantage, 33-31.

Los Angeles was simply hitting everything in the second quarter, making Milwaukee’s defense look absolutely porous. At the break, they were shooting a red-hot 56.3 percent, which was good enough to grant them a 66-58 lead. It was much larger early on in the quarter, but the Bucks did a fantastic job of chipping away at the deficit.

The Bucks would come out in the second half swinging. A quick burst gave them a lead they fought hard for, but only to see it be taken right away from them in the blink of an eye. The Lakers would construct another double-digit lead midway through the third, but Milwaukee was able to trim it heading into the fourth at 101-97.

What an entertaining fourth quarter. It had EVERYTHING. In a playoff atmosphere, both teams traded blows one after another. However, the Bucks didn’t have enough left in the tank when it came into the dying embers of the game, faltering late with a key turnover, paving the way to victory for the Lakers. They’d end up wrapping things up with a 133-129 victory.

The superstars had their fingerprints all over this one. Anthony Davis finished with a game-high 44 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 40. LeBron James and Jrue Holiday each had 28 apiece.

Three Observations

Welcome back, Khris Middleton.

In his pregame presser, Mike Budenholzer told us that Khris Middleton would play between zero and 48 minutes. That number ended up being 27 minutes. During that time, he’d register a compelling 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting. His 3-point shooting didn’t seem to falter, as he connected on three of his four attempts. It was surely a trial run for him in this one, and we’ll likely see his minutes continue to rack up moving forward — but it was great to see him find his groove in such an easy manner. He’ll continue to be the force to this Bucks offense that we know he can be.

Did Anthony Davis turn the clock back or what?

Man, oh man — was he an absolute menace. It really seemed like he brought out his vintage self, as he erupted for a game-high 44 points. The level of his game that impressed me the most was how clutch he was. Late in the game, he connected on a pair of threes that were absolutely massive for the Lakers. In his postgame availability, those were some of the moments that Bud mentioned were just backbreaking for the Bucks. Kudos to AD. In a span of years that has brought lots of frustration for him, he brought his A-game tonight with a masterful performance.

Milwaukee’s defense had a rough night.

Any time your defense allows 133 points, you’re likely in for a rough night — and that was the case for Milwaukee. Each quarter, the Lakers scored over 30 points — 33 in the first, 33 points in the second, 35 in the third, and 32 in the fourth — and that didn’t rub Mike Budenholzer the right way:

This was definitely an outlier for the Bucks, as we’ve seen all year how good their defense can be. Tonight though, that was not the case. As you can see by his quote above, Bud was quite frustrated about it and his guys will definitely be hearing about it. In Khris Middleton’s postgame availability, he mentioned how the Lakers’ pick-and-roll frustrated the guys. The Bucks will have a chance to redeem themselves against the Hornets.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Bobby Portis got yet another double-double, coming off the bench with 15 points and hauling in ten rebounds. He now has 13 double-doubles on the year.
  • This was great to see again:
  • LeBron made some tough shots. He’s still such an incredible player. The force he exhibits on his drive still resembles a freight train, and some of those threes he goodness.
  • Russell Westbrook also had himself a game. Coming off the bench, he registered 15 points and dished out 11 assists — a majority of them in the first quarter, which seemed to help set the tone for the Lakers the rest of the way.
  • That Giannis block on LeBron was a thing of beauty. He pulled a LeBron on LeBron:
  • Right after that, Brook administered a two-handed block that led to a Giannis dunk. That took Fiserv to another level.
  • I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it was not Red Panda’s best night. She dropped a bowl while setting them up on her leg, then dropped three in a row. I still can’t believe it.
  • Giannis was called for a ten-second violation on a free-throw attempt in this one. I believe that was his first of the year. It’ll be interesting to see if he changes anything in the coming games.