Despite a career night from behind the 3-point line from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Los Angeles Lakers closed their road trip with a 115-101 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday at the Fiserv Forum.
With LeBron James, the team’s leading scorer, sidelined with groin soreness on Tuesday, the Lakers needed someone to step up on offense in a big way. On most nights, Kyle Kuzma, the team’s second-leading scorer, picks up the slack, but he was ice cold from the field in Milwaukee, making just four of his 17 shot attempts. He ended the night with a game-low box plus-minus of -27 and 17 points.
Instead, it was Caldwell-Pope who carried the Lakers offensively, scoring a game-high 35 points on 12-20 shooting from the field, including 8-14 shooting from behind the arc. Yes, that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It was the most points he’s scored in a Lakers uniform, and second most of his career.
For most of the season, Caldwell-Pope hasn’t quite lived up to the one-year, $12 million deal the Lakers signed him to last summer, but on Tuesday, he showed why the front office was so high on him when they first added him two years ago.
When his 3-point shot is falling, KCP is a legitimate 3-and-D threat, which is something the Lakers have lacked on the roster for several years. Unfortunately for both the Lakers and KCP, he’s been hot and cold from behind the arc this season, shooting 33.6 percent on 4.5 attempts on the year.
Still, the fact that KCP can go off for eight 3-pointers — something he’s done four times now — is sure to garner him interest from teams this summer when he hits unrestricted free agency.
Reggie Bullock also found his outside shot in Milwaukee, going a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc against the Bucks. Going into Tuesday’s game, he was shooting just 29.9 percent from 3 since joining the Lakers. There must be something in the air in Wisconsin.
The Lakers will be back at home on Friday to take on All-Star D’Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets. Russell was traded by the Lakers in 2017 — along with Timofey Mozgov — for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the draft. Lopez, who left the Lakers this summer, scorched L.A. for 28 points on Tuesday. Let’s hope Russell doesn’t have similar plans for his former team.
Or, if you’re on team tank at this point, maybe you’re hoping he does.