AFP – LeBron James and Anthony Davis scored all but one of Los Angeles’ points in the final quarter as the Lakers rallied to beat the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks 113-102 and clinch a playoff spot on Friday.
The dynamic duo combined for 67 points as James scored 11 of his team-high 37 points in the final quarter and Davis scored 14 of his 30 in the fourth in the clash between the teams with the league’s best records.
The two stars played keep away from their teammates and would have shut out the rest of their bench had guard Alex Caruso not made a free throw with 14 seconds left on the clock and the game out of reach for Milwaukee.
“I am extremely tired,” said James, who also had eight rebounds and eight assists in 37 minutes of playing time.
The Lakers clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2013, ending a seven-year tailspin.
Reigning league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had a double double with a team-high 32 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. He was matched up against James for much of the evening.
The Lakers earned a measure of revenge with Friday’s win. In their initial meeting this season on December 19 in Milwaukee, the Bucks defeated the Lakers 111-104.
Antetokounmpo played a huge role in that victory with 34 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
“He got to the free-throw line a lot,” said James of Antetokounmpo on Friday. “He is such a great player. I just wanted to keep a body in front of him and make it tough on him.”
Kyle Kuzma, with 11, was the only other Laker to finish in double figures while the Bucks had five in double figures.
The Bucks led by as much as nine in the first half before the Lakers forced a tie 48-48 at halftime. Davis was limited to five points in 10 first-half minutes because of foul trouble.
James also talked about the possibility of playing NBA games without fans in the arena due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.
The league sent a memo to each team on Friday asking them to develop contingency plans to combat the spread of the virus. One of the alternatives is playing games behind closed doors.
“Nah. It’s impossible,” said James. “If I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans in the crowd, then I ain’t playing.
“I ain’t never played the game without no fans. Ever since I started. This ain’t Europe.