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Bucks rally past Lakers, clinch playoff berth

Field Level Media Eric Bledsoe converted a three-point play with 2:25 remaining to give Milwaukee the lead for good, and the visiting Bucks scored 15 of the game's final 17 points to post a 131-120 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Eric Bledsoe
Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe (6) shoots the ball past Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram (14) in the first quarter Friday, March 1., at Staples Center. (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)

Field Level Media

 

Eric Bledsoe converted a three-point play with 2:25 remaining to give Milwaukee the lead for good, and the visiting Bucks scored 15 of the game's final 17 points to post a 131-120 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

The win allowed Milwaukee to become the first NBA team to clinch a playoff berth this season.

Bledsoe finished with 31 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo chipped in with 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who won their seventh straight.

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LeBron James had 31 points and 10 assists for the Lakers, who have followed each of their past six wins with a loss.

In a fourth quarter that featured seven lead changes and six ties, James gave the Lakers their last lead at 118-116 by sinking a 3-pointer with 3:11 left.

The Bucks dominated the rest of the game.

After Bledsoe's three-point play, Malcolm Brogdon expanded Milwaukee's lead with two free throws with 1:54 to play and a 3-pointer 13 seconds later, and the Bucks held on from there.

Seven Bucks scored in double figures in a balanced attack, with Brogdon (21 points), Khris Middleton (18), Ersan Ilyasova (12), Brook Lopez (11) and Nikola Mirotic (11) joining Bledsoe and Antetokounmpo in that category.

Bledsoe hit 12 of his 24 shots and also found time for nine rebounds and five assists.

Brandon Ingram shot 13 of 21 and totaled 31 points to match James' team-high figure for the Lakers, who were playing the opener of a back-to-back set. They visit Phoenix on Saturday.

Rajon Rondo had 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, and Kyle Kuzma contributed 12 points for Los Angeles, which was outshot from the floor 51.6 percent to 47.9 percent.

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Both teams made big runs in the first three quarters, helping produce a one-point game heading to the fourth.

Milwaukee led for most of the first half before the Lakers closed the second period with a 13-2 burst that produced a 65-59 advantage at the break. Kuzma and James had two hoops in the run, which was capped by a Reggie Bullock 3-pointer.

The Lakers went on to lead by as many as 12 in the third period, going up 79-67 on a three-point play by James with 7:09 left in the quarter.

The Bucks countered with a 16-3 flurry that put them back on top, with Bledsoe contributing nine points and Pat Connaughton five.

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