AFP/Los Angeles, United States
LeBron James scored a season-high 34 points as the Los Angeles Lakers won their eighth straight road game with a 113-106 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
The victory opened a seven-game road trip for the NBA champion Lakers, who are hoping this is the beginning of another run of victories.
They had a five-game winning streak snapped in their most recent outing, a 115-113 loss to Golden State.
“Our motivation was not losing two in a row tonight. We were able to get that accomplished,” said forward Anthony Davis.
James made a key three pointer and capped his night with an emphatic double clutch slam dunk as the Lakers improved to a NBA best 12-4 on the season after Thursday’s gritty performance at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 23 points and Davis finished with 18 points and nine rebounds in the win. Caldwell-Pope sank seven-of-10 threes as the Lakers went 19-of-37 from three-point range.
Going on a seven-game road trip might be a daunting task for some teams but not the Lakers, who have the best record in the league.
They have excelled away from Staples Center arena by compiling a franchise best 8-0 start on the road this season.
“It is coming along. We are just playing for each other,” said Caldwell-Pope.
The Lakers bottled up reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds but had a career high nine turnovers.
“We’ve got to keep working, keep playing good basketball for longer periods of time, make shots, defend better, rebound the ball better,” Antetokounmpo said. “Ultimately we’ve got to get better.”
Jrue Holiday tallied 22 points and Khris Middleton scored 20 for the Bucks, who dropped their second straight game for the first time this season.
The Bucks led by as many as seven in the first quarter before taking a 33-29 lead into the second.
The Lakers started the fourth with a five-point lead, 86-81, but quickly extended that to 11 points. The Bucks took advantage of some sloppy Laker defence to go on a 9-0 run to close the gap to 98-96 with three minutes to go on a layup by Middleton.
But four-time MVP James and Alex Caruso each drained key three pointers in the final two minutes. James, who beat the shot clock with his three pointer, then put the game away in style by driving hard to the basket and dunking it with 15 seconds remaining in the fourth.
“There were stretches where we were really good on both ends of the court,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
“We had a bad stretch, I felt like the last four or five minutes of the second quarter, on both ends of the court we were not good. We were not sharp like you need to be for 48 minutes.”
Green ejected for yelling
Elsewhere, RJ Barrett recorded a career best with 28 points, and the New York Knicks used a 40-point first quarter to build a lead they relinquished only momentarily in a 119-104 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
Stephen Curry had a game-high 30 points for the Warriors, who were coming off back-to-back wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.
The Warriors lost Draymond Green to a disputed technical ejection in the second quarter, when he appeared to be yelling at his own teammate James Wiseman — but the officials saw it differently.
The Knicks outshot the Warriors 46.3% to 38.4 from the floor.
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