In a game that featured 18 lead changes, it was an uneven effort for L.A., encapsulated by Kobe Bryant's 30 points on 6-of-17 shooting.
For Milwaukee, Larry Sanders went bananas, scoring 21 points, grabbing 13 boards (six offensive) and blocking two shots.
After leading by as many as 13 points, the Lakers had a slim 56-53 lead at the half. They shot 51.4 percent in the half (almost eight percent better than the Bucks), but Milwaukee's advantage on the offensive glass (7-2) helped close that shooting gap.
The Lakers were reckless with the ball, committing eight turnovers in the first half and eight more in the third quarter alone. In addition to Steve Nash's lower back, which acted up and limited him to just seven second-half minutes, the turnovers were a big reason L.A. trailed 82-77 after three.
L.A. came out strong to start the fourth quarter, scoring the first six points and briefly taking advantage while the Bucks rested Sanders.
The Lakers led with under nine minutes left, but eight points in three minutes from Monta Ellis helped Milwaukee pull away. The Bucks reeled off a 17-4 run and coasted to victory the rest of the way.
The Lakers came into the contest only a game ahead of the Utah Jazz and 1.5 games ahead of the Dallas Mavericks for the final playoff spot. And with this loss, the margin for error becomes even thinner as the Lakers limp toward regular season's end.
Meanwhile, despite a losing record and having lost seven of their last 10 games, the Bucks are still well ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers for the eighth spot in the East. Milwaukee will be grinding it out down the stretch as they try to nip the Boston Celtics for the seventh seed, a coveted slot which would avoid a first-round collision with the Miami Heat.
Strangely, the biggest game of the night for many Milwaukee fans took place in Washington, D.C., between Marquette and Miami. The Golden Eagles' upset win in the Sweet 16 was the entree, but the Bucks' gritty victory over the Lakers must be a pretty sweet dessert.
Still, it wasn't all bad for the Lakers, and a look at their report card shows it.