Giannis beats Lakers: I'm not supposed to be here

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Giannis beats Lakers: I'm not supposed to be here

Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
Covered the Lakers and NBA for from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for and the NBA for from 2005-09.

MILWAUKEE -- The Los Angeles Lakers made it 29 games before losing two in a row this season, with Thursday's 111-104 defeat at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks coming on the heels of a loss to the Indiana Pacers earlier in the week.

Now the Lakers are vowing to go another 53 games -- the remainder of the regular season -- without letting it happen again.

"We're resilient. We're going to find ways to win," big man Anthony Davis said after he played the entire second half on a sore right ankle in an attempt to bring L.A. back from a 21-point deficit at Milwaukee. "We're going to keep battling. That's our mindset all year. Even though we did lose two in a row, our mindset is still, let's not lose two in a row. Let's not drop another after we lose one, learn from the first one and do what we can to make sure the next one we come out with a victory."

The loss against the Pacers came with Davis on the sideline because of his ankle. The loss to the Bucks was in the final road game of a brutal stretch that saw the Lakers play 12 out of 15 contests away from Staples Center.

The Lakers might have lost their first-place showdown with a Milwaukee team that came into the night with an identical 24-4 record. And they failed in their quest to go all 82 games without back-to-back losses in the process; but the Lakers still were able to take positives away from what that aspiration meant to the group.

"You want to make goals along the process, along the way, along the marathon," LeBron James said. "And for us to play exceptional basketball for the majority of this part of the season, it's commitment of focus, it's a commitment of what we're trying to do: Continue to get better and just be laser sharp for a majority of the process so far. So we're just going to try to continue that."

It wasn't all a loss for James, who registered his seventh triple-double of the season with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. In playing 37 minutes, he passed Kobe Bryant's 57,278 minutes total for third place on the all-time list of minutes played (regular season and playoffs combined), leaving only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone ahead of him.

He also passed Gary Payton's total of 8,966 assists to move up to ninth on the career list.

"He's breaking all type of records," Lakers guard Rajon Rondo said of James. "Seems like every other game it's a new thing he's doing. It's not like the same [records]. It's not just all points. There's so many things he's able to do throughout the entire game of basketball.

"It's really amazing what he's able to accomplish and still continue to play at a high level. It doesn't look like he's going to slow down in the next three or four years, either. We'll be talking about him breaking records until he's done playing."

And the Lakers hope they can get back to stringing wins together without letting consecutive opponents break them.

"Just because it happened this one time doesn't mean that we can't keep it going the rest of the season," guard Danny Green said. "Obviously facing two tough teams, but it doesn't mean that we can just forget about it and think that it's OK to continue to lose two in a row.

"From here on out, we want to continue to get back in the winning column, get a win streak and not lose two in a row ever again. And hopefully we're playing our best basketball going into April, May and June."


Giannis: Improving my game gives me joy (1:11)

After hitting a career-high five 3-pointers against the Lakers, Giannis Antetokounmpo describes how proud he is of the strides he's made in his game. (1:11)

7:38 AM EET

Eric WoodyardESPN

MILWAUKEE -- After knocking down a career-best five 3-pointers Thursday night to help take down the Lakers 111-104 and lead the Bucks to the NBA's best record at 25-4, Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't bask in glory.

The reigning MVP dressed quickly and then darted to the kids' room of Fiserv Forum for a family meeting with brothers Thanasis, Kostas and Alex -- plus their mom and Giannis' pregnant girlfriend -- almost forgetting his media obligations, before reflecting on the moment.

"I think the most important thing is to try to stay humble. When you win MVP and you win 60 games, it's hard," Antetokounmpo explained in the arena hallway after his 34-point, 11-rebound, 7-assist performance. "You feel like, 'OK, what else?' But at the end of the day, I realize and my family realizes that I'm not supposed to be here."

"I wasn't the No. 1 pick. [Anthony Davis] was. LeBron [James] was. I wasn't supposed to be here," he continued. "I'm not supposed to go against these two beasts, so I'm just happy that I'm here and happy that I'm going through the process, and I always want to be better, do better for my team, and that's what gives me joy."

Including his 5-of-8 performance from beyond the arc Thursday night, Antetokounmpo is 13-for-23 from 27-plus feet in eight games this month after going 13-for-59 in his previous 92 games since the start of last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Antetokounmpo is shooting 45% on 3-pointers in December. He shot 29% on 3s in October and November.

All five of Antetokounmpo's 3s came from 27-plus feet, the most 27-footers in a game by a Bucks player over the past 20 seasons. He winked after drilling his final trey near the left wing at 9 minutes, 7 seconds in the fourth quarter.

"I'm going to keep shooting. It doesn't matter for me if I made one, two or five, I just want to be better," Antetokounmpo said. "And I want to keep getting better and keep working on my game, and it's going to be some nights that I'm going to make zero and it'll be nights I'll make five, but I've got to keep shooting because that's what my team wants me to do."

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer lauded Antetokounmpo as "very rare, very special" after his latest performance for his 3-point improvement, even after winning MVP.

"I think a lot of players keep working, keep getting better, and it's part of our league, part of being a professional," Budenholzer said. "But what Giannis does in the summer, the amount of time he puts in before practices, after practices, taking care of his body -- but I think everybody, as special as he was last year, I think even opponents and his peers, I think, see and know that he can get better. He's doing it. He's putting the time and effort in, and we just feel fortunate he's ours and excited about him and our future."

Davis had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists to lead the Lakers. However, on defense, Antetokounmpo scored 14 points with Davis as the nearest defender, the second-most points Davis has allowed as the nearest defender in a game this season.

Even with that, Antetokounmpo is keyed in on improving, and his latest 3-point-shooting display was all of his hard work coming to fruition.

"Winning games, that's one, but improving and seeing the result at the end of the day. All the shots I made today, I've made these shots like four or five years ago, so seeing them going in tonight, that gives me joy," Antetokounmpo said. "That makes me want to work on other parts of my game, and I can make those shots three years from now. That's what fills me up with joy."

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