MILWAUKEE | With superstars’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James out for their respective teams, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 115-101 at Fiserv Forum.
Player of the game: Khris Middleton
Middleton was the primary option Tuesday night with the absence of Giannis. The Bucks’ second all-star delivered. He finished with a season-high-tying 30 points (12-20 FG), 10 rebounds and five assists. He talked about his performance.
I was just trying to be aggressive and I was able to find lanes early and get a little bit of mid-range. I just tried to take advantage of that and got my three-ball going.
You must give Middleton a lot of credit for the way he stepped up. He has sacrificed so much this season for the better of the team but showed what he can be as the primary scorer.
Play of the game: Tim Frazier finds Pat Connaughton for the slam
Frazier made his Bucks’ debut and showed what he could do running the point. He was able to knife inside to draw the double-team and found Connaughton diving to the rim.
The good: Starters performing with absence of Giannis
Middleton, Lopez, and Nikola Mirotic combined for 81 points. The other starters needed to step up in a game they were without Giannis. Middleton and Lopez each tied their season high in points and Mirotic scored his most points as a Buck. Lopez and Mirotic each converted on eight of their 14 attempts from the field. Lopez finished with 28 points and nine rebounds. Mirotic chipped in 23 points and six rebounds. Head coach Mike Budenholzer talked about the three stepping up offensively.
Khris is always capable of doing that. The ball was in his hands a little bit more. I thought he was great. Brook has had a few games like this, but I thought he was phenomenal. Some of his shots were very timely. He was finishing in the paint, driving it, getting to the free-throw line. He did a lot of things offensively. [Nikola Mirotic] kind of bounced back. [He] had a great game [and] scored a lot of different ways. Those guys were really good.
Milwaukee is a deep team that has a lot of options offensively and it showed Tuesday night.
The not so good: The 4th quarter
Milwaukee only scored 16 points in the final frame and committed nine turnovers which the Lakers turned into eight points. Thankfully for the Bucks, Los Angeles only scored 17 points. The Bucks were up by 15 points after three quarters, but they allowed the Lakers to go on a 16-0 run in the final frame to cut the lead to only seven. The Bucks eventually pulled away late to win by 14, but a bad stretch early on almost cost them the lead.
The weird: Brook Lopez saves the day
It’s not often a ball gets stuck on top of the hoop. It takes a lucky bounce to make that happen. Luckily, the ‘Splash Mountain’ was there to save the day.
“We’re all heroes, we’re just waiting for our moment and mine came tonight,” Lopez said.
Stat of the game: 9
The Bucks were short-handed Tuesday night as they played without Giannis, Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo and Ersan Ilyasova. Their rotation was trimmed down to just nine players. Five of those nine played 31+ minutes.
What they said:
Budenholzer on the win
I thought for stretches we had great urgency and were moving on both ends of the court in a good way. We didn’t play well with that lead. That’s frustrating on a lot of different levels. Great night by [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope]. Those guys were fighting, competing. Credit to them for how they played.
Lakers guard Josh Hart on Lopez’s impact
He’s been great for them. Being able to spread the court, that allows lanes to be more open for Giannis, Eric Bledsoe and Middleton. He’s been a great fit for them. It’s good to see him having fun.
In case you missed it:
*The Bucks improved their NBA-best record to 53-18 and their league-best home record to 28-6.
*With the win, the Bucks secured their second straight season series sweep of the Lakers and their longest winning streak over the Lakers in franchise history (5 games). The last time Milwaukee swept back-to-back series over Los Angeles was in 1980-82.
*Middleton scored a season-high-tying 30 points (12-20 FG, 4-7 3FG) with 10 rebounds, tallying his fifth double-double of the season. This is his third 20+ point game in his last five games played.
*Lopez scored a season-high-tying 28 points (8-14 FG, 5-11 3FG). This is his ninth game of the season with five or more three pointers.
*Mirotic scored his most points (23) as a Buck, with this being his second game scoring 20+ points.
*Prior to the game, Giannis was presented with his third Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award.
The Bucks (53-18) go on the road to Cleveland as they take on the Cavaliers (18-53) Wednesday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00pm.