In a schedule loss to end all schedule losses, the Lakers — depleted by both LeBron James’ injury absence and an extremely active NBA trade deadline — fell to Milwaukee on Thursday night, 115-106.
L.A. did their best to keep up with Milwaukee, but in the second half, the Bucks’ talent was too much to handle, as Giannis Antetokounpo went off with 38 points on the night and Jrue Holiday picked up steam in the second half to give Milwaukee their ninth win in a row and drop the Lakers to 25-31.
With LeBron James ruled out with ankle soreness and new additions Mo Bamba, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Davon Reed and Jared Vanderbilt unavailable, the Lakers only had nine players dress for tonight’s game. They even called up Cole Swider from the South Bay Lakers for help, which is surprising since he had a game earlier this afternoon against the Ontario Clippers.
Hoops in the morning and at night.#SBLakers x @Lakers pic.twitter.com/bxK1IMGpaH— South Bay Lakers (@SouthBayLakers) February 10, 2023
Anthony Davis and the Davisettes did their best to stay with the second-best team in the East, and for the opening half, it worked quite well.
The Lakers were winning the rebounding battle. Their perimeter defense improved significantly compared to the last two games, allowing Milwaukee to only shoot 17.9% from three. And with Austin Reaves back, he was cooking Giannis off the dribble (or at least he did once).
Austin Reaves crossing up Giannis!pic.twitter.com/urHQScz2N3 https://t.co/Y3yOkstMTW— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) February 10, 2023
In the second half, reality reared its ugly head and the Bucks took over. Milwaukee hit five threes in the third quarter alone and Jrue caught fire, scoring 14 points in the frame. Milwaukee went on a 25-10 run to close out the third and an eight-point advantage turned into a seven-point deficit.
With 12 minutes to go. L.A. had one last chance to get back into the game. Dennis Schröder hit a three to tie the game at 94 and then Grayson Allen responded back with a three of his own. It was all Milwaukee the rest of the way as they went on a 10-1 run midway through the fourth and L.A. wasn’t able to get within striking distance again.
The only thing to learn from today’s game is that the NBA shouldn’t schedule games seven hours after the trade deadline. With the team absolutely gutted, the Lakers had no chance of fielding a respectable team tonight. It’s a shame — since this is a nationally televised game and a marquee matchup — but once again, the NBA finds a way to sully its product.
This trade deadline was much more active and volatile than years prior, but even so, could they at least not have games the day of so that something like this never happens again?
The Lakers play again on Saturday, so hopefully, with 48 hours to work with, they can get all their new additions ready to go by then.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.