Giannis Outshines LeBron James, Anthony Davis with 34 as Bucks Top Lakers

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2019

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 19: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 19, 2019 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images).
Gary Dineen/Getty Images

A potential NBA Finals preview ended with the Milwaukee Bucks earning a 111-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The two sides entered the day tied for the best record in the league, but Giannis Antetokounmpo helped lead the Bucks (25-4) to a key home victory at Fiserv Forum. The reigning MVP made a career-high five threes as part of his 34 points and 11 rebounds. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Giannis continues to expand his game. That's now a career-high 5 3PTs and counting 😤🔥 https://t.co/8pmdNlYt8F

He helped Milwaukee build up a 19-point halftime lead, and the squad stayed in front for the rest of the night.

Anthony Davis scored 28 of his 36 points after halftime to get the Lakers back in the game, while LeBron James had his seventh triple-double of the year. Still, the Lakers (24-5) never got in front after the first quarter while suffering their second loss in a row.


Notable Stats

  • LeBron James, F, Lakers: 21 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists
  • Anthony Davis, C, Lakers: 36 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks
  • Danny Green, G, Lakers: 21 points, 7-of-12 from three
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, F, Bucks: 34 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists
  • George Hill, G, Bucks: 21 points
  • Khris Middleton, G, Bucks: 15 points, six rebounds


Giannis Comes Ready to Play in High-Profile Battle

Everyone knows the type of numbers Antetokounmpo can produce, but this was his opportunity to showcase his ability on national television in one of the biggest matchups of the regular season.

He didn't disappoint.

Giannis set the tone with a pair of early three-pointers and continued to show off his expanding offensive game:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Giannis pulled up on AD 😳 https://t.co/ggPX12Mu2q

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Giannis really expanding his range 👀 https://t.co/6VaryoROzV

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

ANOTHER GIANNIS 3 https://t.co/euEPRDeMrH

Anthony F. Irwin @AnthonyIrwinLA

Yeah, if Giannis is hitting like this, it’s just not your night.

The forward finished 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.

He also made plays at the rim on both ends of the court:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Giannis is going right at AD early 😤 https://t.co/YjGE7QWmeF

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

The Freak swats The King 🤚 #FearTheDeer https://t.co/NsI5MTBDu8

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

OOP 👀 #FearTheDeer https://t.co/7NHjom2pYd

Lyle Spencer @LyleMSpencer

Giannis is showing tonight why he’s the best player in the game. He is a force at both ends with skill & athleticism & plays within team framework, never chasing shots. As skilled as anyone his size in history. #Bucks

It helped the Bucks build a big lead in the first half and stay in front throughout the game.

This was hardly a one-man show for Milwaukee, as George Hill chipped in with 21 points as one of five Bucks in double figures. Donte DiVincenzo also came through with big plays on both ends of the court.

But it was Giannis who showed what makes him such a dangerous player, and he did it against some of the best competition in the sport. This should give the team plenty of confidence as it looks to contend for an NBA title.


Only AD Able to Solve Bucks Tough Defense

This game looked headed for a blowout early on, with the Bucks gaining as much as a 21-point lead.

The Lakers were held to a season-low 17 points in the first quarter and only shot 38.6 percent in the first half.

Dave McMenamin @mcten

The Lakers look as bad as they've looked all season tonight in Milwaukee and trail the Bucks 43-24 with 7:08 remaining in the 2nd Q. LAL is shooting just 9-for-30 as a team -- LeBron & AD are a combined 3-for-15.

Anchorage Man @SethPartnow

Lakers spacing is best compared to a self-storage unit on most possessions

Christopher Duarte @Parasite

The Bucks defense must be so frustrating to play against. They got some big ole dudes and just flood the paint. Lakers can barely get close to the net.

Milwaukee entered the day No. 1 in defensive efficiency, per Basketball Reference, and this was on display in the first 24 minutes.

The tide certainly changed in the second half.

Davis, who had just eight points in the first half, was especially impressive in the third quarter to cut the lead to single digits.


😤 AD drops 15 PTS in the 3Q to bring LAL to within 8! @Lakers 81 @Bucks 89 Catch the 4Q on @NBAonTNT https://t.co/efOGFt8x6F


🚨 AD DOWN THE LANE! 🚨 @Lakers 101 @Bucks 109 1:07 to play on @NBAonTNT. https://t.co/6ik2Sm9T8w

He kept it going in the fourth and was almost single-handedly keeping the team in the game in the final minutes.

However, it simply wasn't enough.

James filled up the stat sheet as usual while Danny Green was on fire while shooting 7-of-12 from three. Still, it wasn't a great offensive effort overall.

Los Angeles had just a few easy shots throughout the game, needing its All-Stars to make outstanding plays to score. The 18 turnovers also didn't help the team's case.

The Lakers have been too much for most teams, but they will need more depth and better offensive flow to beat the best in the NBA.


What's Next?

The schedule gets easier for the Bucks, who will take on the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The Lakers will finally return home after a five-game road trip to face the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.