The Los Angeles Lakers lost in arguably the biggest game of the season on Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Though they made a hectic effort to cut a major deficit and make the Bucks earn their win in the closing minutes, the Lakers were never truly back in the game thanks in part to a devastatingly poor performance in the second quarter.
Milwaukee outscored the Lakers 42 to 29 in the second period and never trailed again, leading to LeBron James lamenting the Lakers’ effort in the quarter after the game:
"That second quarter pretty much got us."
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) December 20, 2019
James, of course, is fully right especially in remembering the Lakers poor job at defending the 3-point line. The Bucks made six 3-pointers in the second quarter and were fouled on another attempt. Giving up 42 in a quarter to a team as talented and well-coached as the Bucks is a death wish and that’s what the Lakers got in that period.
The Lakers have generally smoked teams in minutes where LeBron plays with a bench lineup. Over the course of the season, the team has a net rating of 9.6 points per 100 possessions in those minutes. But in the first five minutes of the second quarter with Davis on the bench and James on the floor, the Bucks outscored them 20-7.
There were a lot of issues for the Lakers on Thursday. James played poorly. They only got four points from the bench. They lacked an extra player to break down the Bucks’ defense from the perimeter.
Through all of that, making it a game and losing by seven despite it being the final game of a long road trip and the team nursing some injuries isn’t an awful result. The Lakers were unable to deliver a statement win, but they can take away a lot from this game in terms of how they can improve to give themselves the best chance at winning a title.