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LeBron James says MVP snub wasn’t a factor in his big game vs. Bucks

Lakers star LeBron James passes against the Golden State Warriors.
Lakers star LeBron James, shown here against the Golden State Warriors on Monday, finished with 34 points in a 113-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

They both maintained that two of the top NBA awards from last season that went to Thursday night’s opponent was not any more of a motivating factor for LeBron James or Anthony Davis when they faced off against Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.

They both maintained that this was about not losing consecutive games, about starting this seven-game trip out the right way and about seeing if James and Davis could help the Lakers extend their undefeated record away from L.A.

So, any thought James wanted to prove that the MVP award Antetokounmpo won for the 2019-20 season or Davis wanted to prove that the defensive player of the year award Antetokounmpo won for last season’s campaign was a source of inspiration during the Lakers’ 113-106 win over the Bucks was quickly dismissed by L.A.’s two stars.

The Lakers had lost their previous game at Staples Center against Golden State and they wanted to get back on the winning track right away and avoid having a two-game losing streak. The Lakers started the season winning their first seven games on the road, a franchise record for the best start to a season, and they wanted to continue that trend.

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Stephen Curry was addressed by his real first name, Wardell, on Wednesday night. The look on the NBA superstar’s face was GIF gold.

That, James said, after producing 34 points, eight assists and six rebounds, was what this was all about and not about him finishing second to Antetokounmpo in the MVP voting.

“I think you know me. I think all of you guys know me. It’s never been about individual,” James said. “It’s all about the team success and that’s all that matters. I can care less about that. I just try to play well and help our team win versus any opponent and that’s what it’s all about.”

Davis finished second to Antetokounmpo in the defensive player of the year award, an honor the Lakers felt their guy should have won.

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Nonetheless, Davis said his focus was on the Lakers improving and winning.

He did his part with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists, three big ones in the fourth.

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Highlights from the Lakers’ 113-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday.

“That was last season. Honestly, no one had brought that up or talked about it,” Davis said. “Our motivation was not losing two in a row tonight. And we were able to get that accomplished. He’s a great player, a great player on both sides of the ball, and he deserved them. For us, we just try to go out there and win basketball.

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Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 25 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out late in the game. But he also had nine turnovers.

“For me, I just go out there and try to implement the game in all facets of the game both offensively and defensively to put my team in a position to be successful and then live with the results,” James said. “So, that guy (Antetokounmpo) is damn good himself.

The Lakers used the three-pointer as a big weapon to defeat the Bucks, going 19 for 37 (51.4%) from the three-point line.

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The three-point shooting by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played a big part for the Lakers. He made a season-high seven on 10 attempts. His three-pointer with two minutes 42 seconds left off a pass from Davis stopped a 9-0 Bucks run and increased the Lakers’ lead to five points.

Davis found Alex Caruso for a three-pointer and then Davis found James for a three that gave the Lakers a 111-103 lead.

“You have to take what the defense gives you,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “We have a ton of shooters on this team and if we make the extra pass, we have a chance to get hot like we did tonight.”


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