MILWAUKEE – Giannis Antetokounmpo looked over at LeBron James and Anthony Davis and thought about his past.
“I wasn’t supposed to be here,” the 211-cm Greek Freak said.
Hardly looked that way Thursday night.
Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 11 rebounds, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat James, Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers 111-104 in a showdown of the NBA’s top teams.
The reigning MVP had seven assists and a career-best five 3-pointers as Milwaukee improved to 25-4 after having its 18-game winning streak end against Dallas on Monday night.
“I wasn’t the No. 1 pick, AD was, LeBron was,” Antetokounmpo said. “I wasn’t supposed to be here. I wasn’t supposed to go up 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.”
James had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for his seventh triple-double of the season, and Davis had 36 points and 10 rebounds.
“You tip your hat off to him and we move forward,” Davis said of Antetokounmpo.
The Lakers dropped their second straight game and fell to 24-5, largely because their bench was outscored 34-4 by the Bucks’ reserves. George Hill had 21 points off the bench for Milwaukee.
The last time two teams that were 20 games over .500 played each other before Jan. 1 was 1980. The Boston Celtics (28-8) played the Suns (32-8) in Phoenix. Boston won 116-97.
“No matter what team we play,” Hill said, “we come in with the same mentality to get better that night on both ends of the floor, and it just happened to be the Lakers tonight.”
Milwaukee led by six after the first quarter then opened the second with a 20-7 run. Davis and James combined to shoot 6-for-20 in the first half, and Los Angeles had 10 turnovers. The Bucks led 65-46 at the break.
The Lakers outscored Milwaukee 68-46 in the second half to close the gap but couldn’t get over the hump. Los Angeles now head shome after ending a five-game trip.
“We continue to build chemistry, we continue to build camaraderie,” James said. “Pretty much every time anyone does anything, we pretty much do it together on the road. Just kind of have that bunker mentality, that brotherhood when we hit the road.”
The Bucks improved to 3-0 against the two teams from Los Angeles, including a dominant 119-91 win over the Clippers at home on Dec. 6.
Antetokounmpo, his older brother and teammate, Thanasis, and their younger brother Kostas, who plays for the Lakers, swapped jerseys and posed for photos together on the court after the game.
“This is unique,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “You can’t take this for granted. Three brothers under the same roof, going through the same game, going through our pregame warmup. We’re blessed.”
Rockets 122, Clippers 117
In Los Angeles, Russell Westbrook scored a season-high 40 points, James Harden added 28 and Houston rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half.
After the Rockets turned a 77-61 deficit into a 101-89 lead, the Clippers went on a spurt of their own to go ahead 113-107 with 4:29 left. Houston closed out the game on a 15-4 run to snap Los Angeles’ 10-game home winning streak.
It was the second straight game the Rockets rallied from a large deficit. They trailed by 25 on Monday night against San Antonio before rallying to win.
Paul George led the Clippers with 34 points and Kawhi Leonard added 25.
In Other Games
Nets 118, Spurs 105
Jazz 111, Hawks 106