No matter that Wayne Ellington missed his first six shots through three quarters.
He never lost his shooter’s mentality, and it paid off in the final six minutes of the game, when Ellington scored 11 straight points to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 101-93 Friday night for their season high-tying third straight victory.
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"I’m a confident player," Ellington said. "My teammates got me going. When you find a rhythm and get going, it’s on."
Jordan Clarkson led six players in double figures with 16 points, coming off his career-high, 22-point effort in a win against Utah. Ellington finished with 14 — all in the final period — and Jordan Hill and Jeremy Lin added 14 points apiece.
Lin said Ellington never appeared worried about his poor touch early on.
"The next one’s going up and in," Lin said, describing his teammate’s mindset. "He knows all he needs is one."
Lin helped trigger Ellington’s streak by taking apart Milwaukee on the pick-and-roll. The Lakers outscored the Bucks 36-21 in the fourth.
"You got to feed the hot hand," Lin said. "That’s just the team effort we need. We were able to make them play defense on their heels."
Ersan Ilyasova had 17 points and 12 rebounds, Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 13 points and Jerryd Bayless had 12 off the bench for the Bucks, whose franchise record-tying, four-game winning streak against the Lakers ended.
"Thirty-six points giving them in the fourth quarter, that’s where we lost the game," center Zaza Pachulia said. "Yeah, you can say offensively the shots were not falling down for us, but the thing we’ve controlled most of the year is defense."
Ellington’s hustle helped the Lakers overcome an 11-point deficit early in the fourth. He got his offensive outburst started with a fast-break driving layup. Then Ellington stole the ball and worked a give-and-go with Lin, who fed Ellington for another fast-break basket.
Ellington followed with a 3-pointer before his spurt ended with two straight jumpers, extending the Lakers’ lead to 92-86.
"He came alive when we really needed him to," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "I was surprised at halftime he was 0 for 4. He kept his patience and didn’t get discouraged."
The Bucks twice got within three, the last time on Bayless’ jumper that made it 94-91. But the Lakers converted two straight possessions to stretch their lead to seven with a minute left. Hill’s jumper and Wesley Johnson’s fast-break dunk left Milwaukee calling timeout to regroup.
"We gave up a lot of easy stuff," Bayless said.
The Bucks managed just two free throws by Pachulia in the closing seconds. They shot 37 percent in the fourth and had five turnovers after leading by 11 in the third, when they opened on a 9-0 run.
"Coach always tells us if you can’t score, make sure they don’t score either," Pachulia said.
The Lakers blew a 10-point lead early in the second quarter, and got outscored 23-11 to go into the half trailing 47-45. Bayless scored seven straight and Miles Plumlee added six during the Bucks’ run.
Bucks: Michael Carter-Williams scored eight points in his second game for Milwaukee as the starting point guard. … G O.J. Mayo sat out with right hamstring soreness. … The Bucks are still looking for their 16th road win of the season, which would be their most since 17 in 2012-13. … The teams split the season series.
Lakers: Their winning streak has coincided with F Carlos Boozer rejoining the starting lineup … They have won three in a row for the first time since Dec. 12-14. … G Nick Young missed his second straight game with a swollen left knee. … The Lakers improved to 9-12 against the East. … They had lost seven in a row before their current streak.
Certain of missing the playoffs, the Lakers are determined to finish strong over their last 25 games before they go home for the summer.
"We’re starting to grow as a basketball team," Scott said. "We’ve been playing hard all season, we just haven’t been able to put it together for four quarters."
Ellington dispelled any thoughts the Lakers might tank to improve their position in the draft.
"We’re not coming here to lose any games," he said. "We’re out here fighting."