MILWAUKEE — A few years ago — the last time the Milwaukee Bucks were anything close to being “good” or even relevant — their trademark phrase was “Fear the Deer.”
It is a catchy rhyme, to be sure, but after the surging Bucks rallied over the final seconds of regulation, then pulled away in overtime for a 113-105 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, forward Jared Dudley was in the mood for a little rebranding.
“We’ve got a new nickname,” a boisterous Dudley proclaimed. “We’re the Milwaukee Grinders … don’t fear the deer, fear the grind.”
The Lakers, who became the fifth consecutive opponent to fall to Milwaukee and its newfound, grind-it-out mantra, would certainly agree with that.
Up 14 early in the third quarter, the Lakers withstood a 17-0 Milwaukee run that put the Bucks ahead by eight heading into the fourth. Los Angeles got the lead back and went up six on point guard Jeremy Lin’s 3-pointer with 36 seconds left.
The Bucks answered with a quick 3-pointer from point guard Brandon Knight to make it a 94-91 game. Los Angeles was charged with a shot clock violation on its next possession, giving Milwaukee the ball back with seven seconds left.
With Knight inbounding, the goal was to get the ball to O.J. Mayo, despite the fact that the shooting guard missed his previous three attempts from long range.
“Coach had faith in me,” Mayo said. “He sat me down, helped me regroup and drew up two plays to get back out there and help our team take it to overtime.”
Guard Khris Middleton found Mayo in the corner and with 0.5 seconds left, Mayo sank the tying shot.
“They took the six-point lead, but we were still focused,” said Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, who established a career high with 25 points. “We didn’t panic at all. Thank God O.J. hit that shot, and in overtime, Brandon came on strong and we got the win.”
Knight got off to a slow start Wednesday and was just 2-for-10 through three quarters, but be hit two of four in the final quarter, then exploded in overtime, scoring 12 of his 24 points.
He hit all three of his field-goal attempts — including a pair of 3-pointers — and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free-throw line down the stretch to close it out.
“Knight was great,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said, “He might have been a little slow there to start the game feeling his way, but the second half, that might have been the best half B-Knight had all season. He was able to control the game by scoring, and defensively, getting deflections and coming up with steals and then also finding the open guys.”
The Lakers got close in the extra session, cutting the Bucks’ lead to a point when forward Carlos Boozer scored on back-to-back possessions and made it a 104-103 game with 1:19 to play.
Los Angeles wouldn’t get a field goal the rest of the way, capping off a 42 percent shooting day that included a 9-for-28 effort on 3-pointers and an 18-of-25 showing at the free-throw line.
“We played hard,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “We played pretty well, but we still turned the ball over too many times tonight. We gave them (23) points off fast breaks and (31) points off turnovers. That was the disappointing part. I thought our effort was great.”
Boozer led the Lakers with 28 points, and Lakers forward Ed Davis pulled down 20 rebounds.
“Those guys were very productive for us tonight,” Scott said.
While Los Angeles lost for the 12th time in 14 games and the eighth time in a row on the road, Milwaukee won a fifth consecutive game for the first time since 2012.
The Bucks have won three in a row at the Bradley Center.
NOTES: PG Brandon Knight returned to the Bucks’ lineup Wednesday. He sat out Milwaukee’s 82-75 victory at Toronto on Monday because of a sore right quad. … The Bucks were without C Kenyon Martin because of a sore left ankle. Coach Jason Kidd said the ankle started bothering the 37-year-old Martin last Saturday when Milwaukee hosted Portland. … With F Jordan Hill out for at least the next two weeks with a strained hip, Lakers coach Byron Scott moved Tarik Black into the starting lineup Wednesday, and Black scored five points. The 6-foot-11 rookie made his first start since joining the Lakers on Dec. 28.
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