Lakers have something left in tank, beat Bucks for third straight win

Lakers forward Wesley Johnson dunks against Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in the second half Friday night at Staples Center.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

So the Lakers’ fans want their team to tank, huh?

Forget about it, these Lakers and their coach keep saying.

The Lakers say they are going to play hard and play to win, both of which they did again Friday night, pulling out a 101-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at Staples Center.

And because the Lakers gave an all-out effort with six players scoring in double figures, they tied a season high with a three-game winning streak, their first since Dec. 9, 12 and 14 against Sacramento, San Antonio and Minnesota.


“I think it’s their competitive nature is one of the things,” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said of his team’s proclivity for playing hard. “Their pride obviously is another thing. And the fact that they’ve got a coach that won’t allow them to not do that. We’ve got to play hard. That’s the biggest thing.

“If they don’t, I’ve got to sit guys down and play other guys who will. All 10, 11 guys that we have on that bench are giving it everything they’ve got every single night.”

Wayne Ellington is one of the main players who says he’s not going to tank, that he wants all of his teammates to play out the string the right way. He scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter to help the Lakers erase a 10-point deficit and improve their record to 16-41.

Ellington scored 11 straight Lakers points starting with the basket that broke an 81-81 tie and ending with one that made it 92-86.


“At the end of the day, we’re competitors,” Ellington said. “We’re not coming out here trying to lose any games. Obviously we’ve faced a lot of adversity this season and we’ve been through a lot and we’ve had some tough situations and as result, our record is what it is. But at the same time, we’re out here fighting. We’re not trying to lose, that’s for certain.”

Ellington impressed by not giving in to his inability to make shots early on. He had missed all six of his attempts through three quarters and was scoreless.

“I’m a confident player at the end of the day,” said Ellington, who finished six for 13 from the field. “At the same time, my teammates got me going.”

The way some fans see things, if the Lakers keep losing games and end the season with one of the NBA’s worst records, they increase their chances of keeping the top-five-protected draft pick they owe to Philadelphia for the Steve Nash trade with Phoenix (the Suns traded that pick to the 76ers).


With 25 regular-season games left, Scott said the Lakers will continue to play hard.

“We’re starting to grow as a basketball team,” he said. “I hope we continue to play this way.

“We’ve been playing hard all season long. We just haven’t been able to put it together for four quarters. We’ve talked about being a bunch of very resilient guys.”