Recap: Lakers bamboozled by Giannis and the Bucks

Los Angeles Lakers v Milwaukee Bucks
MILWAUKEE, WI – DECEMBER 19: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks look on during the game 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).

The Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Milwaukee Bucks, 111-104. It started out about as poorly a game as we’ve seen from the Lakers thus far this season, going down by 19 points at the half. Anthony Davis had 15 of his 36 points in the third quarter, which was instrumental in getting LA back in the game and cutting the lead to 8 at the end of the frame. Davis returned to the lineup after missing the loss to the Pacers on Tuesday, and played a team high 43 minutes, obviously a good sign and showing Vogel’s trust in him to play big minutes in games like this.

Ultimately, this game was billed as a potential Finals matchup, and it was alarming that Vogel called this “a measuring stick game” and the Lakers came out with the energy of a preseason matchup, as their early deficit was too much to overcome. The loss means that this is officially the first time all year that the Lakers have lost consecutive games.

All night, Milwaukee’s length was causing issues for the Lakers, as guys seemed hesitant to hoist up a shot, leading to some long possessions where they had to settle for less than ideal shots. Giannis was a problem all game, hitting shots from anywhere he wanted at will.

That’s not a shot he takes last year, and his comfort level in taking higher difficulty shots should leave everybody terrified. Giannis finished with an effortless 34-7-11, as nothing the Lakers threw at him worked during his 32 minutes on the court. The bright side of this is that Frank Vogel is not the first coach to have no clue how to stop him, and he certainly won’t be the last.

Another major issue for the Lakers was their defense of Milwaukee’s three point shooters. Too often they over-rotated to help out AD in the post, and the Bucks made them pay, shooting 16-39 from three (41%). Every time the Lakers crawled their way into the game, the Bucks made a number of timely buckets to keep Los Angeles at arms length. George Hill also had a great game, finishing with 21 points as all five Milwaukee starters finished in double digits, highlighting the total team effort they had in the win.

For Los Angeles, it was a rough outing for a lot of them, particularly Rajon Rondo. He saw a lot of minutes tonight, and he was a major liability for the Lakers on the court. Dwight Howard, coming off his best game in a Lakers uniform, also struggled mightily. In his limited minutes (15) he finished as a game low -15. He was in the game to hopefully help stop Giannis from getting to the rim, but it was all for naught in the end. It was, encouragingly, a good effort from KCP tonight, who had some big shots en route to 18 points.

LeBron played a lot of the second half in foul trouble thanks to a couple of questionable calls going against him while guarding Giannis, but he still put up numbers, dropping a 21-11-12 line. He also wound up as a  -12 in the box score, despite putting up yet another triple double.

The Lakers’ 5 game road trip is now officially over, and will look to get back to their winning ways against Denver on Sunday night at Staples Center, tipping at 6:30 PST.

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