MILWAUKEE (AP) – Khris Middleton scored 30 points and Brook Lopez added 28 as the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 115-101 on Tuesday night.
Milwaukee played without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is nursing an injured ankle, while LeBron James sat out for Los Angeles due to a sore groin.
Nikola Mirotic added 23 points for Milwaukee, which improved to an NBA-best 53-18.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had a season-high 35 points for the Lakers, three off his career best. Kyle Kuzma added 17 points. Los Angeles has lost four consecutive games and nine of 10.
Antetokounmpo, a front-runner for the league MVP award, poured in a career-high 52 points in a 130-125 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, but sprained his right ankle in that game after colliding with Joel Embiid on a drive to the basket late in the third quarter. He continued to play, but continuing soreness forced him to sit against the Lakers.
James, who had 33 points in a loss to the Knicks on Sunday, didn’t play due to a sore left groin, the same injury that caused him to miss a career-high 17 consecutive games earlier this season.
The Bucks led by 11 after the first quarter, but the Lakers worked their back in the second, eventually tying it at 56 before falling behind 61-58 at the half. Caldwell-Pope had 23 first-half points, helped by 5-for-8 shooting from 3-point range.
Milwaukee took control early in the third quarter, building a double-digit lead on 3-pointers by Lopez, Mirotic and Middleton. The Bucks’ lead grew to 23 in the quarter and Milwaukee led 99-84 heading to the fourth.
The Lakers clawed back and cut the lead to five midway through the fourth quarter, before the Bucks pushed the lead to double digits.
Antetokounmpo received treatment on his ankle during the team’s off day on Monday. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game he wasn’t good to play. “He can’t play,” he said. Tony Snell started for Antetokounmpo.
BUCKS ADD FRAZIER
To help fill a void at guard, the Bucks signed Tim Frazier, who played 47 games this season for the New Orleans Pelicans before being waived on Feb. 28. He averaged 4.8 points, 4.5 assists and 1.8 rebounds. The 28-year-old Frazier appeared in four preseason games for the Bucks.
“We feel really fortunate that Tim was somebody that we could add to the team,” Budenholzer said. Frazier played 12 minutes but didn’t score. To clear a roster spot, Milwaukee cut forward Christian Wood. “We are very appreciative of all he did for us, the progress he made, the player he’s becoming,” Budenholzer said.
Lakers: Lance Stephenson missed a sixth consecutive game with foot/toe injuries. .Caldwell-Pope made a 3-pointer as time expired to end the third quarter.
Bucks: G Sterling Brown (right wrist soreness), guard Donte DiVincenzo (bilateral heel bursitis) and center Pau Gasol (left ankle soreness) and F Ersan Ilyasova (illness) sat out. Brown is closest to returning to game action, coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’re hopeful by the end of the week that he will be cleared to play and be available for games,” he said.
Lakers: Host Brooklyn on Friday
Bucks: At Cleveland on Wednesday.