The Los Angeles Lakers began their 8-game road trip losing against the Milwaukee Bucks 112-97. Recently acquired Andre Drummond made his much-anticipated Lakers debut, starting at the 5. The Lakers began the game hot from three-point range, hitting a season high 8 quarter threes. However, the Bucks were able to claw back and steal the lead. The Lakers went cold to close out the first half on both ends of the floor. The Lakers defense struggled to keep the Bucks’ potent offense in check, led by Jrue Holiday‘s 16 first half points. Their offense failed to get anything going, scoring only 19 second quarter points.
The Bucks started the second half with much more energy than the Lakers. Drummond, who provides much needed interior presence, suffered a toe contusion halfway through the third quarter. This ultimately ruled him out for the rest of the game. Without Drummond, the Lakers couldn’t find any offensive rhythm and had a hard time knocking down shots. One factor that limited offensive production were turnovers, a reoccurring theme for the Lakers. Meanwhile, Holiday continued to exploit the Lakers defense as the game’s leading scorer. With 10 minutes to play, the Lakers were able to cut the lead to 10. However, the Lakers fell short, snapping Milwaukee’s three-game losing streak.
This loss puts the Lakers at 30-18. Although this was a game that favored the Bucks, the Lakers had many opportunities to put themselves in a winning position. They were simply outmatched and let the game slip away from them. The Lakers’ road trip begins with a tough loss and they will look to bounce back their next game. There is a lot of work to be done with both their superstars out.
STAR OF THE GAME
The Bucks’ best performance surprisingly did not come from one of their two All-Stars. Holiday erupted for 28 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists on 11-16 shooting. He had his mid-range working all night, allowing him to score at such an efficient clip. Holiday also had 4 steals tonight, showcasing his defensive prowess. This is coming off another strong performance against the Clippers, so Holiday remains red hot. Many consider Holiday as the Bucks’ third star when healthy, and this game proved that sentiment.
Holiday proved that having a reliable third star makes it difficult for the opponent to win. When you are able to stuff the stat sheet like Holiday did at great efficiency along two other stars, defense has to be nearly perfect. The Lakers defended okay, but it wasn’t good enough to stop Holiday.
The storyline continues: the Lakers do not have a consistent offense. They quickly regressed after being on fire in the first quarter and could not take advantage of defensive stops. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored an abysmal 2 points in 22 minutes. Kyle Kuzma, although having 16 points, went 1-9 from three. Talen Horton-Tucker, who the Lakers greatly covet, had one of his worst games with 6 turnovers. As a team, the Lakers shot 40.2% from the field and 27.8% from three. It’s no secret that the Lakers are not a good 3-point shooting team, but they need to move the ball more and take better shots.
It isn’t panic mode for the Lakers given the circumstances, but shooting woes continuing does not bode well for the rest of the season. On the bright side, Drummond created space for shooters before his injury. But if the Lakers want to win games, they need more out of their shooters, specifically their guards. More consistent offense and efficient basketball is a recipe for success.
Besides Milwaukee’s three stars, there was not much contribution from their role players. However, their starting center Brook Lopez put a defensive stamp in the paint today with 4 blocks. Despite scoring only 4 points, Lopez corralled 5 rebounds and dished 3 assists, a very efficient game for someone who is overshadowed by the stars. More importantly, Lopez was +15 in tonight’s game.
Lopez is not a flashy player by any means, but when he’s able to impact the game defensively like he did tonight, the Bucks can score points in transition. He also put Montrezl Harrell on a poster with a ferocious dunk, which Laker fans hope to erase from their memory. The Lakers nonetheless got quality minutes out of Harrell, but Lopez ultimately contributed to their win. He is a large defensive presence in the paint and can also space the floor, and tonight he played his role without any mistakes.
The Lakers travel to Sacramento to take on the Sacramento Kings.
@ Sacramento Kings, Friday, April 2nd, 7 PM PT
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I’m Eric Kang and have been a huge NBA and Lakers fan for all my life! I’ve been covering the Lakers for the Peach Basket since 2021.