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.
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.
- 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:
The forward finished 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
He also made plays at the rim on both ends of the court:
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.
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.
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.
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.