Behind 34 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists from defending league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks moved to 25-4 — a game ahead of the Lakers for the best record in the NBA.
After the win, the Bucks posted a jab at the Lakers for a post from the preseason that read: “Consider this a warning, NBA.”
The post came after the Lakers first preseason game, which featured the debut of Anthony Davis and LeBron James together.
“Was this just for the preseason?” the Bucks account wrote. “Asking for a friend.”
The Bucks will be able to hang on to the bragging rights for now, but it’s a long season. The teams won’t see each other again until March 6.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Respectful After Beating Lakers
While the Bucks social media account took the opportunity to gloat, Antetokounmpo was respectful after the win, reflecting on his journey from a mid-first-round pick with potential to arguably the best player in the league.
“I wasn’t the No. 1 pick, AD was, LeBron was,” Antetokounmpo told reporters. “I wasn’t supposed to be here. I wasn’t supposed to go up against these two beasts. So I’m just happy that I’m here and happy that I’m going through the process and I always want to be better, do better for my team and that’s what gives me joy.”
While Antetokounmpo was happy with the win, he made sure to note the Bucks aren’t making a big deal out of a regular season victory.
“It’s great we are the No. 1 team in the NBA right now, but at the end of the day, we might see them at the end of the season. So no one is making a big deal about a regular season. Our focus is to take it step by step, game by game and get better.”
Lakers Ready to Return Home After Road Trip
The loss against the Bucks was the end of an extended road trip for the Lakers that started on Dec. 11. They went 3-2 on the trek against Eastern Conference foes.
“It feels like we’ve been on the road forever,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told The Athletic. “We have to go back and recharge the batteries and play in some games at Staples Center.”
The second quarter ended up being the difference against Milwaukee for the Lakers, who gave up 42 points in the stanza.
“We tried to come back in the second half,” Lakers guard Rajon Rondo said. “The second quarter giving up 42 points is a lot. It’s going to be tough to win when you dig a hole like that, to come back. Every time we made a run, those guys, including the role players, made big shots.”
Davis played on a gimpy ankle that he rolled against the Hawks over the weekend. He missed the Lakers loss against the Pacers last time out, but played 43 minutes against the Bucks, including the entire second half. He led the Lakers with 36 points.
“Playing on the ankle that he’s playing on, just a gutsy performance,” James said. “Take away the second quarter, we played an exceptional game. Especially being at the end of a road trip. But that’s a really good team, well coached, they play exceptional basketball, but that second quarter pretty much got us.”
The Lakers are at home for their next two games, including another high-profile matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day.