Assessing Damian Lillard’s debut and more as Bucks beat Lakers

Oct 15, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports /

After missing both of the Milwaukee Bucks’ first two preseason games, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damain Lillard made their debuts against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Although their minutes may not have been significant, that was expected as the Bucks aimed to ease them into things. Still, they both put some interesting film on tape as Milwaukee took down Los Angeles with a final score of 108-97.

Assessing Lillard’s performance and more

Lillard, who played just a tick under 22-and-a-half minutes, did not look to score right out of the gate, as it seemed like he was more focused on getting his teammates involved. That helped the guard tally three assists.

After a little bit, he started hunting for his shot, and though he shot just 3-of-10 from the floor, the guard had an aggressive mindset all night, earning six free throw attempts; he nailed all six. There was clearly rust for Lillard, who still finished with 14 points, the second most on the team.

Even looking beyond his scoring and passing, Lillard made an impact elsewhere on the floor with his active hands defensively, notching three steals.

In short, it was not a perfect game for Lillard, but that was expected in his first action in months. He’s still building up chemistry with everyone around him, and integrating a superstar such as him is certainly not a quick and easy thing. It should get better over time.

Speaking of preseason debuts, Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like he had been itching to get back on the floor, having made the most of his 15 minutes. The Greek Freak had 16 points – 70 percent shooting – eight boards, an assist, and two blocked shots. Welcome back, Giannis.

Off the bench, Pat Connaughton and Cameron Payne – two vets who will likely be relied upon this coming season – had nice games. Connaughton buried four triples, including a clutch one late, and finished with 12 points. Payne also had 12 points, but it was his seven assists that stood out.

Malik Beasley appears to be the frontrunner to claim Milwaukee’s starting two-guard slot, as he started against Los Angeles. He couldn’t find his shot, shooting just 3-of-10 from the floor to get eight points. Yet, even then,  he remained energetic after recent comments from Coach Griffin, having made his presence felt by pestering opponents.

The Bucks will be back in action on Tuesday against the OKC Thunder for preseason game No. 3.

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