MILWAUKEE — The Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks are the past two NBA champions, and were among the title favorites again heading into this season. Neither has looked like it through the first month, however, in large part due to injuries. The most notable of which is LeBron James’ abdominal strain, which kept him out of Wednesday night’s matchup and sapped some of the juice from the game. 

But Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook were still out there, and you’re never going to be bored when that’s the case. Especially not when the former put up a dominant 47 points and nine rebounds to lead the Bucks to a 109-102 win. 

The Lakers got out to an early double-digit lead, but the Bucks worked their way back into the game late in the first quarter. From there, they were largely in control and led by as much as 12 before the Lakers went on a run to briefly retake the lead early in the fourth. That’s when Khris Middleton — back in the lineup after a bout with COVID-19 — stepped up and put the Bucks back in front for good with a part of 3-pointers. He finished with 16 points, five rebounds and six assists on the night.

Westbrook led the Lakers in defeat with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Davis added 18 points and nine rebounds. The Lakers have now dropped back to .500 on the season at 8-8 but should be bolstered by LeBron’s return later this week. 

Giannis dominates from the opening tip

It took Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks a few minutes to get going, but once they did they never looked back. He threw down an emphatic dunk for Milwaukee’s first points of the game, and in the next 90 seconds added three more finishes at the rim. He kept up that aggressive mindset all night long. 

“He was in attack mode,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He really, competitively and from a mindset, really wanted to be his best. When he’s in attack mode that’s usually when he’s at his best. I thought he made some great passes too. Giannis was special tonight.”

That he was. He had 28 points in the first half and finished with 47 points, nine rebounds and three assists on 18-of-23 from the field. It was a season-high for him, and also made him the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 1995 to go for at least 45 points and shoot 75 percent from the field against the Lakers. 

The Lakers had no answer for most of the night and were only able to slow him down for a brief period when they switched to a zone in the second half. Giannis eventually solved that, however, and took over down the stretch. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including eight in the final 3:09. The most important of which came with just over two minutes remaining, as he bullied Talen Horton-Tucker under the basket, converted an and-one and flexed to an ecstatic crowd. 

Giannis has been terrific all season long, but it hasn’t always translated to wins for the shorthanded Bucks. This time, though, with another great player in Davis on the other side, Giannis brought a little extra and it didn’t go to waste. 

“[Davis is] one of the best players in the league,” Giannis said. “You have to come ready. If you don’t come ready it’s going to be a long night. You have to have your guard up. You have to be ready to compete against a guy like Anthony Davis. Guys like that, if they smell fear they go at you. And vice versa. If I see somebody scared of me, I’m like going all night. I’m not gonna stop. You gotta be ready to take the challenge, and you gotta be willing to take the challenge also.”

Courtesy: CBS Sports


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