Forget that 51 point quarter. A loss to Milwaukee, a team with 13 wins on the season, losers of the last eight in a row, is one more stop on the humiliation tour.
The game started with Chris Kaman in doubt. He missed yesterday’s charter for personal reasons and flew to Wisconsin on his own. He made it to the game on time and then, on cue, fumbled a pass and missed a jump shot in the first two possessions. He then missed a free throw and turned the ball over. Bucks point guard, Brandon Knight, continued his dominance against the Lakers point guards; they don’t have the speed to stop him. He scored 30 in the game, 13 points higher than his average. The Lakers trailed early. Their defense was particularly abysmal. The Bucks shot 56% for the game. They made 6 out of their first 7 shots. This for a team that scores 95 points. But Chris Kaman kept on shooting and made three jumpers to cut the lead to one. A Jordan Hill fast break layup gave the Lakers the lead. Jodie Meeks hit a three and it was 21-17. The Bucks hot shooting cooled off and the Lakers widened their lead to 7. (Note to D’antoni: Kent Bazemore dribbling into the post and then passing out of penetration almost always ends up in a turnover.) Jordan Hill had 8 points and 7 rebounds early in the game. It made you wonder: does D’antoni talk to him? Xavier Henry had his first dunk of the night. But a three pointer plus back to back turnovers erased a good part of the 9 point lead. It was now three. The Lakers ended the quarter up by four, 30-26.
Early in the second quarter, the Lakers bench continued their efficiency. Nick Young scored twice, Kent Bazemore finished on a fast break. The Lakers trapped the Bucks scorers and created turnovers. A Nick Young three gave the Lakers a 9 point lead. But the ‘Greek Freak’, Giannis Antetokounmpo, finished on a beautiful layup and the lead was seven. And then a rookie on rookie crime, Giannis charged into Ryan Kelly. In the quarter Giannis, who has “star” written all over him, had 8 points and 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Still, with six minutes left the Lakers only had a 4 point lead with a game they controlled. It felt like they were up by double digits. But a sensational Brandon Knight off the dribble layup cut the lead to 2. His reentry into the game changed the whole tempo and the Lakers found themselves tied and without a way to stop him. Xavier Henry was missing in action as is usually the case on the road. 7 points. 1 assists. 0 rebounds. 25% shooting. The Bucks were shooting 70% in the quarter and took the lead 45-43 with four minutes left. The lineup on the floor for the Lakers was suspect. Kendall Marshall who cannot score. Wesley Johnson who cannot score. And Jordan Hill, the Lakers savior in this game. Jodie Meeks was exhausted having to guard Brandon Knight and Chris Kaman was double teamed. And when he wasn’t doubled he missed a layup. The Bucks continued to take it inside and get to the line, extending their lead to six. They were shooting 62% in the game and 60% from three. Chris Kaman was miserable in the second quarter, missing nearly every shot he attempted. A Jordan Hill put back dunk and a put back tip in cut the Bucks lead to two and the Lakers trailed at the half 55-53. Jordan Hill had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The third quarter, where Mike D’antoni teams go to die, began with a defensive breakdown and a Zaza Pachulia dunk. Ball movement for the Bucks, the worst team in the NBA, and ball death by the Lakers, was the reason the Bucks opened up the lead to 6. (Note to D’antoni: Remind Kendall Marshall he is shooting 39% on two point shots. And while you are at it remind Jodie Meeks he does not have to launch a three when four seconds have elapsed from the clock. Thanks.) The lead was seven. And then eight. Without Jordan Hill the Bucks were looking at a ten or twelve point lead. Have the Bucks swept any team this year or will the Lakers be the first? Xavier Henry launched a three. It missed of course. On the road he is shooting 13% from three. Then he fouled Brandon Knight on the dribble. Already Brandon Knight had 22 points on 71% shooting. Sigh. Nick Young led the Lakers back from the brink of embarrassment and with four minutes left the Bucks lead was three. But they were still shooting 65%, the team with the fourth worst shooting percentage in the NBA. Nick Young fought for a tough rebound and then Ryan Kelly finished a three point play and the score was tied. Two John Henson free throws, a John Henson jump hook over Robert Sacre, a Ryan Kelly turnover and two Ramon Session free throws had the lead at 6 again. Every time down the Bucks ran the same play with Knight or Sessions: hesitate than beat your man off the dribble. The Lakers were down by 7 at the end of the third. The team who averages 95 points a game, had 87. They were 21 points from what the Lakers average for their opponents, 108 points.
It was a 13 point Bucks lead early in the fourth quarter. Three bad Nick Young shots and a Xavier Henry missed layup created easy opportunities for the Bucks. Jodie Meeks ended the scoring drought at the nine minute mark with a running layup. But Ramon Sessions was unguarded and hit a three to answer and put the Bucks up by 12. The Lakers are the only Western Conference team the Bucks have beaten twice. Jordan Hill was the Lakers hero. He did it all. He was up to 26 points and 14 rebounds. But a team that does not defend, regardless of what they do offensively, are always going to suffer in the fourth quarter where games are lost on defense. It is a ridiculous/pathetic admission but the Lakers cannot stop a 13 win team from scoring in the paint or on the perimeter. A Nick Young three cut the lead to 6 with two minutes left. A Jordan Hill midrange cut the lead to 4. Nick Young missed a three to cut the lead to 1 with forty seconds left and the Lakers getting beat by the worst team in the NBA, a team who had lost their last eight in a row, loomed like a dark cloud. But Nick Young hit a 3 with 15 seconds left to cut the lead to 3. It was still a three point lead with sixth tenths of a second left. But no miracles here, no Derek Fisher moment. Milwaukee reaches the magic number, 108 points. The Lakers lose to the worst team in the NBA. Does that make them the worst team in the NBA?