In a highly anticipated matchup, the defending champions traveled to Fiserv Forum for a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks. Lebron James and Anthony Davis came to battle another dynamic duo in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. In what was a close game for a bulk of the time, the game was blown open in the fourth quarter. Though the final score does not show it, the Lakers had full control in the fourth quarter. Let’s take a closer look into the game in our Bucks vs. Lakers recap.
Lebron Leads the Way in Scoring
Lebron James led all scoring tonight with 34 points on 52% shooting. James also had six rebounds, eight assists, one block, and one steal. Needless to say, Lebron James took over tonight’s game. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in scoring with 25 points on 64% shooting. Giannis also tacked on 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block, a block stuffing Lebron at the basket. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday were close behind Giannis with 22 points for Holiday and 20 points for Middleton. The Lakers shot 51% on three pointers with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hitting 7/10 of his three point shots. The Bucks were only able to hit 32% from three point range as Middleton led the team with only three shots made from behind the arc.
Giannis blocks LeBron 😨 pic.twitter.com/pBlqIa0G93
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 22, 2021
Close Battle in the First Half
After 30 minutes of play, the Lakers had a 63-57 lead following a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three pointer to beat the buzzer. Jrue Holiday and Giannis led the scoring at the half with 13 points each. Giannis ended the first half with three personal fouls, a dangerous situation for the MVP to be in. The Lakers hot shooting caused them to go on a run at the end of the first half. Are we starting to notice a pattern here when it comes to teams shooting very well against the Bucks? Let’s dive into that.
It’s time we all ask, could Coach Budenholzer be a liability? It is seriously getting very scary how well teams are able to shoot against the Bucks, no matter who it is. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope making seven three-pointers and Lebron James making six three-pointers is only going to lose you basketball games. Another qusetionable call is Pat Connaughton and Thanasis Antetokounmpo getting minutes over Torrey Craig. Torrey Craig was brought in as a player who can defend anybody, and he is not being used whatsoever. Yes, Craig is battling an injury, but he has a face shield and was cleared to play, yet he gets no minutes. Craig’s defensive presence would have been so useful tonight but once again, Coach Bud refuses to give him any playing time.
Inconsistencies in Officiating
I am never one to claim that the referees are the reason teams lose basketball games. However, it becomes an issue when the same fouls are not being enforced. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP, a player who shoots an average of 9.6 free throws per game, was only given 5 chances at the line tonight. In one particular moment, Giannis seemed to have been clotheslined with no call. On the other end of the court, Montrezl Harrell used his acting skills to get a flagrant call against Giannis. Why is it that the rules of the game are not being enforced evenly? It is getting quite ridiculous. This is not uncommon, I recently discussed this in my previous article. Here is a video of the no-call against Giannis:
Lakers Pull Away in the Fourth
The game was relatively close throughout the game. In the fourth quarter, however, the Lakers went on a run to gain an 11 point lead and held on to that lead for most of the fourth quarter. The Bucks went on a small run to bring it within two until Lebron hit a dagger three pointer to end the hopes for the Bucks. Just like that, the Lakers held on to win 113-106 as Milwaukee was handed their second straight loss. With Friday’s game against the Wizards postponed, we can hope for some time to clean things up.
Coaching failures, poor shooting, and officiating inconsistencies all factored into the loss. The defending champs were just too strong and our defense was just too weak. Put that on the players or the coaching staff, either way, we need some serious changes down the stretch. Our attention is not turned to Sunday, as the Bucks welcome the Atlanta Hawks to Milwaukee. Let’s all hope for a better performance.