Lakers shock Milwaukee Bucks to start long road trip

The Lakers have an early signature win for this season.

The Milwaukee Bucks were 15-5 coming into Friday night. And maybe it should’ve been a lopsided victory for them. But the Lakers dug deep, came to play, and scored the knockout against the Bucks in a slugfest, 133-129.

The game plan was obvious: get Anthony Davis involved early. That means attacking the paint in a multitude of ways whether it’s attacking from the top, a pick-and-roll, from the post, or in transition. Davis scored 13 points in the first period alone.

LeBron was scoreless in the first 12 minutes and that was probably by design. After Davis ate it all in the first, Bron went after his. He scored 10 points as the Lakers boosted their lead to double digits. The halftime lead eventually went to 8 points. What I was also surprised early on was Khris Middleton getting PT like he’s been playing the entire season; this was his season debut.

The third quarter would normally be hell for the Lakers. The Bucks did rain threes and took the lead for a brief moment. But the Lakers roared back and put it back to double digits with this breathtaking aerial show by Lonnie Walker the Fourth. May the Fourth be with you:

Still, Giannis Antetokounmpo finally got going. He bullied his way to 14 points in the third. But the Lakers kept a 101-97 advantage going into the fourth.

During the exciting fourth quarter, LeBron James passed a legend:

LeBron James is now 6th in the NBA career assists list, passing the great Magic Johnson.

But in that fourth quarter, the Lakers and Bucks went back and forth. Pat Connaughton would make a three to give Milwaukee a 117-116 lead. LeBron took the lead back with a bank shot. Then Jrue Holiday made a three. That was countered by a rare (at least, for this season) Anthony Davis three. It was like this for nearly the rest of the game and the Lakers held a precarious 132-129 lead with 21 seconds left.

Grayson Allen missed a wide open three and Russell Westbrook went to the line. Westbrook missed the foul shots so the Bucks got a second chance to tie the game. Jrue Holiday didn’t make the game-tying three, though. Anthony Davis clinched it with a foul shot and the Lakers scored the upset.

I had mentioned in the Lakers/Bucks preview that the Lakers might have to move the ball. They did with 32 assists. Not only that but I didn’t expect them to immediately attack the paint. The Lakers scored 70 points in that painted area (the Bucks, as mentioned, only allowed 44.9 points in the paint, which would be the second fewest in the league).

Also, the Lakers played really clean basketball. How often are they going to turn the ball over only four times the entire contest? The Lakers pretty much played A+ ball. And they had to do that to get this win.

Anthony Davis went for 44 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. LeBron James had 28-8-11; he gutted it out late after tweaking his ankle. Westbrook had 15-7-11 off the bench. What’s more impressive? No turnovers for Russ. Lonnie Walker had 14 points after a slow start.

Giannis had a slow start himself but he dropped his third straight 40-piece against the Lakers (40 points, 7 boards, 5 dimes… and this incredible block on LeBron James). Jrue Holiday kept the Bucks in the game with 28 points to go along with 6 rebounds and 9 assists. Khris Middleton had an admirable first game back with 17 points and 7 assists in 26 minutes. Bobby Portis came off the bench with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

As an NBA fan, this might have been the best game of the year (both teams shot over 53 percent of their field goal attempts). For the Lakers fans, this is the best game of the year for them. The critics have mentioned that their 6-2 stretch was over weak competition. Well, for the first time this season, they truly looked like a top tier NBA team. Maybe this is the real turning point for the Lakers. Or maybe this is just an aberration.

Either way, you couldn’t ask for a better start to the Lakers road trip. Hopefully, they can keep this roll going as they go into the nation’s capital on Sunday. Hi, Kyle Kuzma!

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