'Unpredictable' Lakers rally from 19 down to beat Bucks in 2OT

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Wednesday, March 27, 2024

MILWAUKEE -- Exhausted from logging 52 minutes, 51 seconds -- the most playing time of his career and most by a Los Angeles Lakers player since Kobe Bryant in 2012 -- and hobbled by a sore knee that required treatment during the game, all Anthony Davis could do was smile after outlasting the Milwaukee Bucks128-124in double overtime on Tuesday.

"It was fun," Davis said after the Lakers, playing without LeBron James because of a sore left ankle, trailed by 19 points in the fourth quarter before storming back. "Let's line up and do it all over again tomorrow."

Indeed, L.A.'s reward for its fourth win in a row -- drawing the team two games behind the Phoenix Suns for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference with 10 contests remaining -- is the second night of a back-to-back Wednesday at the Memphis Grizzlies.

And the upset win over the Bucks -- during which Davis put up 34 points and 23 rebounds,Austin Reaves tallied 29 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for the second triple-double of his career andD'Angelo Russellhad 29 points and 12 assists -- will go for naught without validating it against the cellar-dwelling Grizzlies.

"Now we got to fill our cups back up and try to go play against a really hard-playing, highly competitive Memphis team regardless of what their circumstances are with people being in and out of the lineup," Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.

L.A. started Tuesday's game shooting 2-for-16 from the field as the Bucks built a 19-point lead in the first quarter. The Lakers cut it to single digits in the second and again in the third, but Milwaukee padded its cushion back to 19 with 8:25 remaining in the fourth.

Then Russell and Davis sparked a quick 7-0 run for L.A., giving the Lakers just enough life to convince Ham to go for it during a timeout with 6:56 remaining and the Bucks leading by 12.

"I told them, 'Hey, man, just band together. The next couple of minutes, let's try to get it down to single digits. And we have plenty of time to do what we need to do,'" Ham said. "And they went out there and just started making plays and making shots, getting stops."

There were plenty of sequences that stood out -- from Taurean Prince tying the score at 101 with two free throws with 43.9 seconds left in the fourth, to Davis defending a lob thrown to Giannis Antetokounmpo (29 points, 21 rebounds, 11 assists) at the rim off a sidelines inbounds pass with 2.0 seconds remaining.

And that was just in the fourth.

In the first overtime, it was Russell's turn to tie the score with two free throws with 3.1 seconds left, and Davis came up huge with another defensive play, rejecting a finger roll by Damian Lillard (27 points, 8 assists) with 0.9 seconds to go.

"Defensive instincts," Davis said. "I saw he had a step; I think it was on [Reaves], and I just read it."

In the second OT, after both teams were scoreless for the first three minutes of the five-minute session, Spencer Dinwiddie tied the score with two free throws with 1:17 to go and Reaves hit the biggest shot of the night, a 3 with 38.6 seconds remaining, to give the Lakers the lead for good.

"This is the stuff you dream about as a kid, being on the road with your guys, battling out an amazing team and having opportunities to make big shots," Reaves said.

Antetokounmpo missed as many free throws in the second overtime -- two -- as L.A. missed all game. He finished 1-for-6 from the line. The Lakers were 30-for-32.

"We let our foot off and we got burned," Bucks coach Doc Rivers said. "That's all that is. When we played right at the beginning of the game, it was beautiful basketball. We stopped playing right and thought we could still win and we couldn't."

L.A. improved to 6-4 this season without James -- the first one of the 21-year veteran's teams with an above .500 record without him since the Miami Heat in 2012-13.

"I just think we're an unpredictable team," Russell said. "So depends on which team you get, depends on which team we are defensively, offensively as a unit. Some guys are better than others [some nights]. Some guys have bad nights. It just depends on what team we're going to be. When we're in full effect like tonight -- obviously, no Bron -- but, I think we'll be hard to beat."

ESPN's Jamal Collier contributed to this report.

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