Giannis Antetokounmpo declared the best team in the Western Conference resides in Utah — not Los Angeles — after his Bucks fell to the Jazz on Friday night.
“It just looks fun. Like when I watch them play, it looks fun, it looks easy,” Antetokounmpo said after dubbing Utah the best team in the West, per Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “It looks simple. For sure, they look like us last year, and man, when you’re at that point and you’re playing with that confidence you’re hard to beat for sure.”
Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo called Utah "the best team in the West" following tonight's loss.
"It just looks fun," Giannis said. "When I watch them play, it looks easy, it looks simple. For, sure, they look like us last year."
— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) February 13, 2021
Antetokounmpo’s Bucks reeled off the best regular-season record in the NBA last year before being unceremoniously tossed from the playoffs by the Miami Heat 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Maybe the two-time defending MVP was just being literal since Utah currently sits atop the Western Conference — and the NBA — with a 21-5 record, a half-game ahead of the 21-6 Lakers. But it seems hard for Antetokounmpo to forget about the defending champions, who are on a seven-game win streak of their own.
The Lakers beat the Bucks earlier this season, 113-106.
Lakers Reeling Off Wins But Making it Hard
The Lakers have fallen behind by 20 points in the first halves of their last two games, but have still managed to reel off wins. A victory against the Grizzlies on Friday night was the first time LA didn’t have a game go to overtime in four tries.
“There’s a little frustration,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma told reporters. “We should never be down 20 points at any point in time with the personnel that we have on our team. … But we’ve been through the fire, and we know how to walk people down. We’ve been having to walk people down a little too much lately.”
Kyle Kuzma, on the Lakers' habit of coming back lately.
"There is a little bit of frustration. We should never be down 20 points at any point in time with the personnel we have on this team."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) February 13, 2021
The win against Memphis also marked the return of Lakers star Anthony Davis, who had been sidelined for the last two games with an Achilles injury. He put up a team-high 35 points and 9 rebounds in his return to the court.
Davis said the Achilles bothered him a bit, but it doesn’t sound like anything he’s overly concerned about — matching the tone the team has maintained about the injury.
Anthony Davis on what he felt tonight: "As you play, always using that Achilles tendon, it got sore at the end just constantly moving." Said on the whole it felt good, he'll get treatment.
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) February 13, 2021
“As you play, always using that Achilles tendon,” Davis said. “It got sore at the end just constantly moving.”
LeBron James Ripped by Grizzlies Announcers for Flop
Davis being back helped out LeBron James, who had been carrying the load for the Lakers in his absence. The four-time MVP put up 28 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists in the victory.
“You’re watching greatness,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said when asked about James.
Not everyone was so jazzed about the MVP frontrunner’s performance, particularly the Memphis announcers, who tore into James after what looked like a flop in the first half.
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) February 13, 2021
“Are you serious,” Memphis color analyst Brevin Knight said. “This is getting out of hand. That’s awful, horrible, whatever words you can come up with that are synonyms. That’s what that was.”
After a five-game homes stand, the Lakers hit the road for their next contest — a big Western Conference clash against the Nuggets in Denver.