Dinwiddie’s block on Lillard seals Lakers win over Bucks

The Lakers win another improbable game without LeBron James.

LOS ANGELES — The Lakers somehow keep doing this.

With no LeBron James, D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie came up big in their own way as they upset the Milwaukee Bucks, 123-122.

Dinwiddie replaced LeBron in the starting line-up. But it was all about feeding Anthony Davis early and often as he didn’t have the greatest of games against Sacramento last Wednesday. He scored 10 points as he helped keep the Lakers pace with the Bucks. Milwaukee led after the first quarter, 30-27.

The Lakers’ three-point shooting got scorching as D’Angelo Russell started throwing fireballs from afar. He made three early in the second quarter, a prelude of things to come. Still, ex-Laker Malik Beasley, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Damian Lillard wouldn’t let the Lakers get away. Lillard scored 11 points in the last three minutes of the half and the Lakers led, 67-63.

Lakers and Bucks exchanged some runs in the third period. Just as the Bucks were ready to wrest away the lead, Russell made another three that we thought would close the quarter. But Austin Reaves picked Antetokounmpo’s pocket to add to the Laker lead entering the fourth, 96-90.

The Bucks looked inevitable as they kept clawing at the Laker lead. With Anthony Davis limited because of a shoulder injury, Russell took over the offense like never before. He kept the Bucks at bay as he scored 11 straight points for L.A. It didn’t look great as the Bucks scored 7 straight late, including a Dame four-point play. That gave Milwaukee a 118-112 lead with under two minutes left.

Rui Hachimura made a huge three to cut the lead in half. Pat Connaughton would make a lay-up to counter. Then Russell made another three to slice the deficit to two. Then Spencer Dinwiddie was called for a foul. A review happened which overturned the call but since the Bucks still had possession then, they kept the ball. They would take advantage with a Giannis banker that would put them up, 122-118.

Russell came through again with another bucket; this time, he was fouled on a lay-up. He would convert the foul shot to make it 122-121, Bucks. Lillard would miss on the ensuing possession and the Lakers had a chance to go ahead.

D’Angelo took care of biz here.

That would give the Lakers the lead with 5.9 ticks left. The Bucks had a chance to get the lead back and possibly win. But as we know now, Spencer Dinwiddie did the rest…

Not really known for his defense, Dinwiddie got the clean block on Lillard and preserved the win for L.A. A thrilling win for this Laker team.

It was a close game throughout. Davis was his usual self before his shoulder injury. D’Angelo Russell was phenomenal as he played his best game as a Laker and continues to provide the shooting and playmaking the team needs. Hachimura didn’t shoot well but he made a clutch three towards the end. And the bench, which is much-maligned these days, did pretty well to provide some scoring punch. It was just a clean game for both teams that barely turned the ball over (11 total giveaways in this game!).

Like I said, the Bucks are really dangerous. Giannis Antetokounmpo is an unstoppable freight train. Damian Lillard, even if he’s up and down with his shooting, is an outside threat anytime. Malik Beasley gave them some early shooting and I’m glad he’s thriving in his new environment (a lot of Laker fans would disagree with me). Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis were both huge off the bench.

But in the end, the Lakers came through in the clutch. Clutch is defined as having a five-point lead (or less) with five minutes left in the fourth quarter/overtime. The Lakers have the best record in that regard at 19-8. If the Lakers can keep it close at the end then they’re good. It’s just that, more often than not, they seem to let the game get away from them early and it turns into an embarrassing blowout.

It’s what makes this Laker team so maddening this year. They can beat the top teams (sometimes, even without their top players). But they seem to fall asleep on games that they should come out on top of. Granted, it hasn’t happened as of late but they’re still very susceptible to this sort of thing. Maybe they’ll get it together late like last season but they wouldn’t be in this position right now if they actually don’t play down to their competition.

Russell had his high as a Laker with 44 points; he scored 21 in the fourth quarter! Anthony Davis had 22-13-5 while Austin Reaves was steady with his 18 points. On the other side, the Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo. He had a triple-double with 34 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists. Damian Lillard had 25 points and 12 dimes and it was the first time in NBA history that a duo had at least 25 points and 12 assists. Pat Connaughton came off the bench to score 17 while Bobby Portis had 14.

The Lakers home stand will end on Sunday against Minnesota before they go up to Sacramento on Wednesday. Then they start another four-game home stay right after. As for the Bucks? Don’t worry. The Lakers will see them again at the end of the month.

It’s definitely one of the bigger wins for the Lakers this season. But I’ll confess that we’ve said that so many times because the Lakers this season has been inconsistent as all hell.