The Los Angeles Lakers dismantled a listless and banged up Milwaukee Bucks for most of the game before hanging on for a shockingly narrow 122-114 win in the final game of their five-game road trip.
Nick Young (26 points on 11 shots with five made 3-pointers) went buck hunting against a largely disinterested and disorganized Milwaukee defense, if buck hunting was done with a rocket launcher and drone strikes while wearing the Iron Man suit before a second-half collapse nearly doomed Los Angeles.
It appeared to be the Lakers’ night from the start. The team finished the first quarter leading 47-30 while shooting 81 percent from the field. Those 47 points were the most the Lakers have scored in a quarter this season. The Bucks’ defensive rating in the quarter was 179.3.
Young not only didn’t miss a shot (4-4 in the first quarter) but posted an astounding four assists in the first frame. He averages exactly one assist per game for his career, and would not assist again in the game.
“I was getting my teammates off, being a young Magic Johnson out there,” Young said on the Spectrum Sportsnet broadcast after the game.
Ivica Zubac scored seven points in four minutes while going 3-3 from the field in the first period as well.
The second quarter saw the Lakers cool slightly... to finish the first half shooting 69.2 percent from the field and 62.5 percent on 3-pointers. Tarik Black’s putback dunk in the quarter nicely summarized what the Lakers did to the Bucks through 24 minutes.
The Lakers led 76-55 at the half, the most points they scored in a half this season:
Phenomenal first half for the Lakers, who had 76 points on 52 possessions and 83% true shooting. They assisted on 3/4 of their field goals. pic.twitter.com/BG1pUrgcUU— Positive Residual (@presidual) February 11, 2017
Even the scalding-hot Lakers are prone to the third-quarter let downs the regular version suffer from, losing the third quarter by a whopping two points as Giannis Antetokounmpo (a career-high 41 points, 21 free throw attempts and 27 spell checks by this author on the night) was able to knife into the paint to juice Milwaukee’s offense.
The Lakers still led by 19 heading into the fourth, when head coach Luke Walton proceeded to show his Golden State Warriors roots by sticking with his bench lineup as they blew a lead with the efficiency of his former team in the 2016 NBA Finals.
The Bucks started the final frame one a 14-2 run, when Walton made subs and Julius Randle (15 points and seven rebounds in the game) dropped in two straight baskets to slow the bleeding.
A few timely baskets from the Bucks weren’t quite enough as the Lakers were able to hold on to victory mainly by virtue of Milwaukee not having enough time to make up the deficit.
Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon (18 points on 11 shots) was called for a questionable offensive goaltending violation before being whistled for an arguably more questionable foul on Lou Williams that allowed the Lakers’ super-sub to ice the game with two free-throws.
The purple and gold will have plenty of second half film to discuss over an extended break before they look to start a streak when they take on the Sacramento Kings next Tuesday, Feb. 14 at home.