Bucks win tussle with Lakers
(TSX / STATS) -- LOS ANGELES -- A scuffle late in the third quarter briefly sparked the Los Angeles Lakers, but in the end the Milwaukee Bucks prevailed and continued their bid for the NBA playoffs.
Khris Middleton scored 30 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo contributed 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists, helping the Bucks defeat the Lakers 107-103 on Friday night at Staples Center in a game that resulted in the ejection of three players and nine technical fouls.
Antetokounmpo made 11 of 16 shots from the floor as the Bucks (34-34) won for the eighth time in the last nine games, including a road sweep of the Lakers and Clippers the past two games.
Milwaukee is one-half game ahead of the Miami Heat for the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference and a game behind the sixth-seeded Indiana Pacers.
"I think we played great basketball at the end," Antetokounmpo said. "Defensively, we didn't play hard enough, but we picked it up. Both wins were big for us. Moving forward, we have to keep playing together and hopefully we can get another one Saturday (at Golden State)."
Jordan Clarkson had 21 points and Ivica Zubac added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers (20-49), who lost their fourth in a row and the 12th in 14 contests. Nick Young had 16 points and D'Angelo Russell finished with 14 before both were ejected late in the third quarter along with Bucks center Greg Monroe.
"I loved how these young guys stepped up," said Young, who converted 6 of 11 field goals and 4 of 8 from 3-point range. "As a team, the whole coaching staff, players, we've got each others' back and that's unity; that's a team. I think we need to show that fight every night."
Tempers flared with 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter with the Bucks leading 83-73. Bucks rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon fouled Young on a drive to the bucket. Young took exception and pushed Brogdon. Monroe, who had 12 points and six boards before being sent to the locker room, shoved Young as players from both teams became involved in the scrum.
"I didn't think it was a hard foul," said Brogdon, who struggled offensively and managed just six points on 2-of-7 shooting, missing all four of his 3-point attempts. "I actually got the ball going down and I thought it was pretty clean. I guess he was mad about it, but I think all of that was for show."
Just par for the course.
"It's part of the game," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. "After things like that, there's always a momentum swing, and it swung their way. The guys stayed their course, they kept playing and we found a way to keep the lead and finish the game."
Los Angeles outscored Milwaukee 31-23 in the third quarter to cut an 18-point deficit to 84-77 heading into the fourth quarter.
A Julius Randle free sliced the margin to 103-100 with 6.6 seconds left. Brogdon hit two foul shots with 5.7 seconds left before a 3-pointer by Clarkson sliced the gap to two points. Middleton's two free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining iced it.
"We all trust Khris. He made some plays that we didn't make shots on, just like we did with the Clippers game. Khris calls the problem, he had two guys on him and now we've got to be able to finish plays. Khris is who we expect to be able to deliver."
Milwaukee led 61-46 at the half. A 13-4 run midway through the second quarter allowed the Bucks to go up by double digits. Middleton scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor in the first half.
For the Lakers, the result was the same story: another loss.
"They made shots. I think they had a few offensive rebounds where they put it back up, kicked it out and made shots," said Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, who had 11 points. "We just couldn't get over the hump, we made shots, too, we just couldn't get a stop at the end."
NOTES: The Lakers will unveil the bronze statue of NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal next Friday in Star Plaza at Staples Center. O'Neal, an analyst for the NBA on TNT, played with the Lakers from 1996 to 2004 and helped them win three straight NBA titles. He was MVP of all three championship series. ... Lakers C Tarik Black missed the game with flu-like symptoms. ... Bucks F Michael Beasley (hyperextended left knee) sat out his ninth consecutive game. ... The Lakers host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
Updated March 18, 2017