LeBron James: Lakers vs. Bucks Has 'Never Been About' Matchup vs. Giannis

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIJanuary 22, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, tries to get past Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 6, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo may have been the headliners in Thursday's Los Angeles Lakers victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, but James hardly feels like it's on just the two of them to deliver for their respective teams whenever they match up.

"It's never been about individual," James told reporters after the 113-106 win. "It's all about the team success. That's all that matters."

That was especially true down the stretch as Antetokounmpo tried to keep his team within striking distance before ultimately fouling out with 24 seconds left in a five-point game. 

The Greek Freak finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and nine turnovers while James flourished with a game-high 34 points, eight assists and six boards. The win kept Los Angeles (12-4) undefeated on the road (8-0), while Milwaukee moved to 9-6 on the year. 

But even as James and Antetokounmpo battled, the improvements in the depth around them were noticeable. 

While Kentavious Caldwell-Pope dropped 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc for the Lakers, the Bucks got another 42 combined points from Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. 

This wasn't a matchup between MVP candidates so much as a litmus test between two title contenders. That one team featured the reigning champs and the other had the reigning MVP didn't add any extra layers to the importance of Thursday's contest.

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"For us, we just try to go out there and win basketball games," Anthony Davis said after recording 18 points and nine rebounds. 

The Lakers did that without too much drama on Thursday.