Tuesday, March 28, 2023

NBA Preview: Milwaukee Bucks (37-17) at Los Angeles Lakers (25-30)

With LeBron James’ pursuit of the NBA’s all-time scoring record now complete, the Los Angeles Lakers can work on getting themselves back into the playoff chase.

James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s mark Wednesday against Oklahoma City, with another home game set for Thursday against the surging Milwaukee Bucks.

For all the pomp and circumstance Tuesday’s game provided for the Lakers, including a full complement of celebrities in the crowd, they ended up falling 133-130 to the Thunder. Los Angeles looked more interested in getting James over the scoring hump than playing defense.

James needed 36 points to set the record and ended up with 38. But fellow star Anthony Davis had just 13 points on nine shot attempts in 31 minutes. The Lakers are just 3-4 since Davis returned from a foot injury and are in 13th place in the 15-team Western Conference.

At issue now is James’ sore right foot, which flared up on him late in Tuesday’s game. It is merely the latest injury wrinkle for the Lakers. Afterward, though, James was just trying to wrap his mind around becoming the greatest scorer of all time.

The Bucks enter Wednesday’s game with a big-time scorer of their own. Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging a career-best 32.2 points per game, which is third best in the NBA.

The Bucks are more at peace with the standings than the Lakers, sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the NBA-best Boston Celtics entering Tuesday’s slate. Milwaukee is on an eight-game winning streak, while also winning 10 of its last 11.

The Bucks enter well rested after a 127-108 road victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday as Antetokounmpo had 24 points in 23 minutes. Antetokounmpo was two assists short of a triple-double as he played through right knee soreness. Brook Lopez passed the 15,000-point mark for his career.

The entire win streak has taken place as the trio of Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday have been reunited on the court together. Bobby Portis remains out with a right knee sprain.

The Bucks will be looking to avenge a 133-129 home defeat to the Lakers on Dec. 2.

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