LOS ANGELES — The Milwaukee Bucks will try to prolong the troubles of the Los Angeles Lakers when the two teams square off Friday night at Staples Center.
The Bucks (33-34) have won seven of their last eight contests, including a 97-96 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday at Staples. Clippers forward Blake Griffin missed a shot inside the lane before the final horn that allowed Milwaukee to prevail.
Six Bucks scored in double figures with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton leading the way with 16 points apiece. Matthew Dellavedova, who finished with 12 points and was 3-for-3 from 3-point range, hit a late trey that turned out to be the difference.
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“When we’re unselfish and we make the extra pass, good things happen,” Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. “(Dellavedova) made some big shots for us (Wednesday). I thought we had some great looks in the corner late that we missed, that if we continue to get these type of shots in close games they’ll go in for us.”
The Bucks, who will play the third game of their six-game road swing, have lost to the Lakers in their last two visits. The Lakers are 12-4 all-time at Staples against the Bucks.
Despite a career-high 41 points by Antetokounmpo, the Lakers defeated the Bucks 122-114 in their last meeting on Feb. 10 at Milwaukee. Los Angeles scored season-highs in points in the first quarter (41) and first half (76) before holding off a late charge by the Bucks.
Nick Young led the Lakers with 26 points, eight of them coming via two four-point plays, in the win.
Since then, victories have been difficult to come by for the Lakers (20-48), who have dropped three in a row and 11 of their past 13 games.
On Wednesday at Houston, the Rockets crushed the Lakers 139-100 behind 30 points from former Laker Lou Williams. Julius Randle led Los Angeles by scoring a career-high 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting. Randle also had eight rebounds.
It was the second time this season the Lakers have been beaten by 39 points by the Rockets. Houston recorded a 134-95 rout on Dec. 7 against the visiting Lakers.
Los Angeles coach Luke Walton couldn’t hide his exasperations after the latest blowout, questioning his team’s effort and its commitment to improve.
“We need to figure out as a group, not individually, but as a group how to handle adversity and how to react when things get tough,” Walton said. “We do a lot of blaming other people and we need to look at ourselves and control what we can control. Until we do, unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of frustrating nights like (Wednesday).”
Walton has tinkered with his lineup for the past few games as the club evaluates its younger players. He benched starting point guard D’Angelo Russell the past two games for his inconsistent play and replaced him with Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson had 18 points against Houston.
Young didn’t play in the previous two games before the setback to the Rockets, giving way to David Nwada. However, Young started against the Rockets and played 23 scoreless minutes on 0-for-9 shooting.