Lakers look for revenge against visiting Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks visit the Los Angeles Lakers in a Friday night clash between clubs with the NBA’s best records.
In their initial meeting on Dec. 19 in Milwaukee, the Bucks defeated the Lakers, 111-104. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo played a huge role in the outcome with 34 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. George Hill had 21 points off the bench and Khris Middleton added 15 for Milwaukee, which led by double digits for much of the contest before holding off a late Los Angeles rally.
Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 36 points and 10 rebounds, while James finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
“Obviously, they’re going to try to get payback. We beat them pretty bad,” said Eric Bledsoe, who missed the game with a fractured right leg. “They’re going to come out strong, so we just have to match their intensity. They’re at the top for a reason. They got two of the best players in the league and a great supporting cast, so we just have to match their intensity.”
The Lakers head into the contest as winners of nine of their last 10, including a 120-107 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday. Davis collected 37 points, 13 rebounds and four steals as the Lakers rallied from a 13-point deficit in the second quarter, seized an 11-point halftime advantage and never relinquished the lead.
Davis scored 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting in the second quarter, when Los Angeles outscored Philadelphia 37-19, and connected on 4 of 5 3-pointers and 13 of 19 shots from the floor overall.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel has encouraged Davis to shoot more from long distance.
“He scores in a variety of ways, he’s a threat in a variety of ways and we are continuing to wind him up from the 3-point line to be aggressive in those situations,” Vogel said. “One of the best plays of the night was with the defender, I think it was Mike Scott, racing out to Anthony after he knocked down two 3s and just the lane being wide open and he just goes and tears the rim down. That’s why we shoot 3s with Anthony, to carry that threat.”
Said Davis: “Coach said it opens up the floor for me, opens up the floor for the team, (puts) space where teams are not helping as much, and when I’m able to knock down a couple, I’m able to show the pump fake and then drive and get a layup or a pass for my team.”
James added 22 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds as the Western Conference-leading Lakers improved to 47-13.
The Bucks have won seven of eight and 21 of the their past 24 contests while posting the league’s best record at 53-9. They bounced back from Monday’s 105-89 loss to the Miami Heat for a 119-100 win over the visiting Indiana Pacers on Wednesday.
Antetokounmpo scored 29 points, grabbed 12 boards and recorded six assists after managing just 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting in the defeat at Miami. Milwaukee blew a 22-point lead against Indiana before taking command in the second half.
–Field Level Media