Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis provided a scathing assessment of his form despite another road win for the NBA champions, saying "I suck right now".

The Lakers extended their franchise away record to eight consecutive wins on the road to start the season by topping the Milwaukee Bucks 113-106 on Thursday.

LeBron James posted a season-high 34 points, while All-Star team-mate Davis had 18 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks for the Western Conference-leading Lakers (12-4).

Davis, though, was far from pleased with his performance after shooting just eight-of-18 from the field and missing his only three-point attempt.

"Right now, to be hard on myself, man, I think I suck right now," Davis said post-game.

"I'm not making shots, I'm not making free throws. But I think tonight my aggressiveness, just being a poster and getting to the paint allowed guys to get open."

David added: "My aggressiveness tonight. That's the only way I feel like I'm gonna get out of this funk or whatever that I'm in.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a better basketball player every game, and that's what I'm gonna continue to do."

"I trust my team-mates. AC [Alex Caruso] hit one for me. Bron hit one and Kenny [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] hit one, and they're in the right spots where I want guys when I have the ball in the post," Davis continued.

"And just [am] able to make the read with their guys doubling or collapsing to the paint when I get there, and was able to kick it out and those guys made shots."

 

The Milwaukee Bucks host the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday in what most expected to be the matchup from last season's NBA Finals.

The Miami Heat put paid to that in the injury-enforced absence of reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Lakers battled their way to the championship.

This will be their first meeting since then, though it could be lacking in star power with LeBron James questionable to appear due to a left ankle sprain.

The Bucks will be keen to bounce back and make a statement against one of the league's strongest teams after a five-game winning run ended at the hands of James Harden, Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets last time out.

The Lakers also have a point to prove, though, having suffered a fourth-quarter collapse against the Golden State Warriors in their previous outing.

Milwaukee are their first opponents on a gruelling seven-game road trip, though they are yet to be beaten away from Staples Center this season.

KEY PERFORMERS

Khris Middleton

Middleton has the best offensive rating of any of Bucks starter (126.5) and his net rating of 16.5 is only marginally bettered by Jrue Holiday (17.5).

He is making a career high 2.6 three-pointers per game this season and is doing a better job of punishing teams when he gets to the free throw line – he is shooting at 93.2 per cent from the stripe, a solid improvement on the career mark of 87.6 per cent he entered this season with.

He is not only a perpetual threat from beyond the arc, either. This season he has made 75 per cent of his field goals at the rim – that's better than Antetokounmpo (70.1 per cent).

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

There can be no doubt that James and Anthony Davis are the most important players on the Lakers roster, but Caldwell-Pope is proving that the decision to hand him a three-year, $40million contract to return to the team last November was a great decision.

He is shooting at 53.7 per cent from beyond the arc this season, second only to Seth Curry (59.5 per cent) among players with a minimum of 40 attempts in the league.

Caldwell-Pope also has the highest plus minus per game (11.4) for qualifying players in the league this season. It is a significant jump from the 2.3 he averaged over the previous campaign and shows just how much of an impact he is having early on.

KEY BATTLE: CAN DAVIS CONTAIN GIANNIS?

When the teams met back in March – before the season was shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic – Antetokounmpo drew two fouls from Davis within four minutes of the first quarter.

It piled the pressure on the Lakers, who were forced to try to defend the Bucks' best player using a backup option. But when your backup option is LeBron, you are in good hands.

Antetokounmpo ended the game with 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but it was the Lakers who emerged 113-103 winners.

While defending Giannis, LeBron still shone on the offensive end and finished with 37 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

Davis was limited to just 29 minutes due to his foul trouble and, particularly if James misses out due to his ankle injury, will need to be more disciplined on Friday.

HEAD TO HEAD

That was only the third time Antetokounmpo has faced the Lakers since LeBron joined the team ahead of the 2018-19 season and it was his first lost.

Los Angeles benefited from keeping Giannis to 47.6 per cent shooting from the field but it is not a guarantee for success – the Bucks are 20-17 when Antetokounmpo shoots below 50 per cent on at least 20 attempts.

Still, since Giannis entered the league in 2013, LeBron is 16-5 against the Bucks with an average of 27.4 points per game.

Anthony Davis led the way as defending NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers continued their fine form with a 120-102 win over James Harden's Houston Rockets.

Davis, who sat out on Friday due to a groin strain, returned to score 27 points in Sunday's victory against the Rockets in Houston.

LeBron James posted 18 points, seven assists and seven rebounds as the Lakers won for the sixth time in seven games.

"[Tonight] was just A.D. being A.D. and just having him back in the line-up gives us a whole other dynamic both offensively and defensively," James said after the Lakers led by as many as 27 points.

Former MVP Harden finished with 20 points, while Rockets team-mate Christian Wood had 23 of his own.

It was a feisty game in Houston, where the Lakers' Markieff Morris and Rockets big man DeMarcus Cousins were both ejected in the opening half, while there were also five technical fouls and two flagrant fouls.

Kawhi Leonard reached a milestone after the Los Angeles Clippers held on to beat the Chicago Bulls 130-127.

Clippers star Leonard put up a season-high 35 points, including seven three-pointers, four assists and three steals to reach 10,000 career points.

Paul George contributed 28 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for the Clippers, who snapped a run of back-to-back losses.

The Bulls were led by Zach LaVine's season-high 45 points away to the Clippers in Los Angeles.

 

Durant stars on return

Back on the court following a three-game absence, Kevin Durant scored 36 points and collected 11 rebounds, but the slumping Brooklyn Nets still lost 129-116 at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander inspired the Thunder with 31 points.

Julius Randle's double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds was not enough to lift the New York Knicks, who went down 114-89 to the Denver Nuggets. Nikola Jokic (22 points and 10 rebounds) propelled the Nuggets with a double-double of his own.

 

Curry struggles

While the Golden State Warriors trumped the struggling Toronto Raptors 106-105, Stephen Curry was uncharacteristically poor. Curry was just two-of-16 from the field, while he made only one of his 10 three-point attempts for 11 points in 38 minutes.

 

LeBron, the sniper!

James produced a moment of magic to unleash Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with a stunning left-handed pass from deep.

Sunday's results

Utah Jazz 96-86 Detroit Pistons
Los Angeles Clippers 130-127 Chicago Bulls
Oklahoma City Thunder 129-116 Brooklyn Nets
Denver Nuggets 114-89 New York Knicks
Los Angeles Lakers 120-102 Houston Rockets
Minnesota Timberwolves 96-88 San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors 106-105 Toronto Raptors
Miami Heat-Boston Celtics (postponed)

 

76ers at Hawks

The high-flying Philadelphia 76ers (7-3) visit the Atlanta Hawks (4-5) on Monday. Doc Rivers and the 76ers are set to welcome back All-Star Joel Embiid, but Ben Simmons is expected to miss out after a depleted Philadelphia side – ravaged by coronavirus and injuries – lost to the Nuggets.

Anthony Davis says there is trust among the Los Angeles Lakers regardless of whether he or LeBron James are making plays late in games after the NBA champions rallied past the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Lakers made it a clean sweep of four straight wins on the road thanks to a 94-92 triumph in Memphis, backing up a victory against the Grizzlies and two against the San Antonio Spurs.

James and Davis each finished with 26 points, but it was down the stretch where the superstar duo really came to the fore. Trailing by two with five minutes to go, they combined for a 9-2 run and an 86-81 lead.

Together they put on 15 points late in the fourth to make it 92-83 with a little over 30 seconds remaining, while the last basket was James assisting Davis for a dunk.

Describing their chemistry late in games, Davis said: "When you got playmakers and scorers on the floor, it's very easy for us. 

"We don't like to use the term, like you said, 'flip the switch'. We want our switch to be on at all times, but it's good to have guys who can make plays for us, especially late in game at both ends of the floor. 

"It starts with LJ and his ability to pass the ball and read defences is unreal, his I.Q. is very high. We usually have the ball in his hands. 

"Even when we don't have it, we know late game whoever it's going to - whether it's his hands or my hands – we're going to live with that, whether we make shots or miss shots we're going live with us making the plays for us or for others."

Davis is in his second season playing alongside the legendary James, who also had 11 rebounds and seven assists to his name in another influential showing.

For Davis, there are no surprises about the levels James continues to show at the age of 36.  

"It's not surprising at all, he's been doing this now for 18 years, it's crazy to see he's doing it in his 18th year but the numbers he puts up is not surprising," he added. 

"It's testament to the player he is - practice, shootaround, pregame, he's constantly getting his body ready to go out there and put up those kind of numbers you know from rebounds to assists or scoring. 

"But also, things that don't show up on a stats sheet, leadership, getting guys ready to learn offensive and defensive schemes we have, hence he's one of the greatest to ever do it, if not the greatest. 

"It's good to be a witness to that in my second year, to see how he continues to put on a show for us, night in and night out. It surprises no one on this team, he's been doing it night in and night out and it seems like it's getting easier for him."

James was asked about the Lakers' first experience of the road this season during a global pandemic.

"It's what it is, we're here to work, get better and to win," he replied. 

"We're in a winning business, that's what we want to do, we want to create great habits, we're going to have times when we don't play to our capabilities but we still want to create great habits going forward, that's what I think we did on this road trip."

LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers team-mates were left disheartened upon hearing Kenosha County District Attorney announced no charges are to be filed against the police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a black man who was left paralysed.

Blake was shot seven times in the back by a white police officer on August 23 last year as he leaned into his car in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In response, several professional sports teams refused to play scheduled matches and, in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, the Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic.

That subsequently led to all NBA games on August 26 being postponed, while there were further boycotts in Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Soccer (MLS).

Many NBA stars, including James, were vocal from the Orlando bubble in their campaigning against racial injustice, and several Lakers players expressed their dismay following Tuesday's confirmation none of the officers at the scene will face criminal charges.

Speaking after the Lakers' 94-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, James said: "To hear what happened in Kenosha today was a blow to the heart and to the gut, not only to that community but to us and to every, I guess, black person that has been a part of this process and seeing these outcomes for so long.

"And not only in the black community but in the white community as well, who see moments like this happen to us, to happen to his family, to happen to [Blake] himself. But we've got to continue to stay strong, continue to believe in each other and continue to push for the greater change and the greater good."

Wesley Matthews, now at the Lakers, was a part of the Bucks side that refused to play against the Magic back in August and was left similarly frustrated by the latest developments but urged the public to not lose heart.

"Truly, it's disheartening," he added. "It's just about right and wrong, but it can't deter those citizens who are trying to do right, who are trying to fight for equality, who are trying to fight for the right things.

"It can't deter us, we can't lose our heads, we can't start rioting, we have to be calculated, we have to continue to keep our foot on the pedal, we have to continue to keep our foot on the gas.

"These are lives right here. It's upsetting as a Wisconsinite. It's upsetting as a human being that justice isn't justice. It's tough. But it can't knock us off our path that we're trying to get to, which is equality and just simply right and wrong."

Anthony Davis said he was left with a sense of failure but will "continue to push the needle for change".

"Obviously it sucks, we as a community try to support the family and try to do everything we can to get justice for him, for that to happen, it sucks," he said. "It's like we let the family down. We continue to honour Jacob Blake and his family, we continue to push the needle for change, it's not going to stop us by playing basketball."

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