- Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard jointly rack up 30 points, standing out in the Bucks’ 108-97 win against the Lakers.
- Lillard marks his Bucks debut, while Antetokounmpo exhibits dominance in his initial preseason match.
- LeBron James sits out, and the Bucks’ three-point shooting struggles during the preseason are evident.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis showcased why they’re among the NBA’s elite big men with remarkable performances, primarily in the game’s first half, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 108-97 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center Sunday evening.
Antetokounmpo notched 16 points, grabbed eight boards, and recorded two blocks in 15 minutes for the Bucks (2-1). Meanwhile, Davis tallied 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and two steals in 19 minutes for the Lakers (2-3).
Damian Lillard’s Impressive Debut with the Bucks
The Bucks’ new point guard, Damian Lillard, took charge and executed pick-and-roll plays with Antetokounmpo, donning a jersey other than Portland’s for the first time in his pro career. In his inaugural seven minutes on the court, he sank three free throws after being fouled by Los Angeles’ guard, D’Angelo Russell, who attempted to bypass a screen set by Antetokounmpo.
In 22 minutes, Lillard scored 14 points, shooting 3-of-10 overall and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. He dished out three assists, made three steals, and secured two rebounds.
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Giannis’ Dominant Presence
After resuming full training since camp’s start on October 2, Antetokounmpo made his preseason debut, instantly making an impact. The two-time MVP scored the Bucks’ opening basket with a post move and dropped nine points in his initial seven minutes on the floor. He went 4-for-6 (all inside the paint) and was perfect from the free-throw line, also blocking two shots in the first quarter.
Re-entering the game in the second quarter, Antetokounmpo executed a swift cut for an uncontested dunk and nailed a 28-foot three.
However, that was Antetokounmpo’s sole contribution as he spent the second half spectating from the bench, ending the game with 7-for-10 shooting, registering 16 points in 15 minutes, and grabbing eight rebounds.
On another note, Bucks’ all-star Khris Middleton sat out his third consecutive preseason match. Yet, during the game’s third quarter, GM Jon Horst joined the ESPN commentary, stating, “I anticipate him playing sometime this preseason and certainly being fit for the regular season’s commencement.”
The Bucks face off against Oklahoma City on Tuesday and wrap up their preseason at home on October 20 against Memphis.
It’s prudent to approach preseason stats with caution given the extended 21-player rosters, the absence of some starters, and teams, like the Bucks, integrating players into new systems and alongside fresh teammates. However, post three matches, the Bucks are shooting a mere 29.7% (33-for-111) from the three-point territory.
Though Lillard participated in just one game, regulars like Brook Lopez (4-for-13, 30.7%), Malik Beasley (8-for-22, 36%), Jae Crowder (5-for-14, 35.7%), and Pat Connaughton (7-for-19, 36.8%) are yet to hit their stride. Notably, Connaughton sank 4-of-7 threes against the Lakers, offsetting a 3-for-12 start in his initial two matches.
Lakers’ coach Darvin Ham chose to rest James for this match after the league’s senior-most player featured in preseason clashes against Brooklyn (October 9) and Golden State (October 13). The Lakers also sidelined Austin Reaves, Gabe Vincent, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Jalen Hood-Schifino.
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