NBA: Bucks pad their lead at the top with win against Kingless Lakers

Bucks Khris Middleton matched his season high with 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks padded their lead at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 115-101 win against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers.

Playing without leading scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) and fellow starter Malcolm Brogdon (foot), the Bucks extended their lead over the second-place Toronto Raptors to three games with 11 left for both teams.

Brook Lopez matched his season high with 28 points, Nikola Mirotic scored 23 while starting in place of Brogdon for a second straight game and Eric Bledsoe finished with 14 points and seven assists for the Bucks.

The Lakers, who played without leading scorer LeBron James (groin), lost their fourth straight game and ninth in the past 10.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shot 8-for-14 from three-point range and scored a season-high 35 points off the bench for the Lakers. Kyle Kuzma added 17 points, and Rajon Rondo and Reggie Bullock had 13 points apiece.

The Bucks took a 99-76 lead with 1:17 left in the third quarter and appeared headed for an easy win, but the Lakers came back with a 16-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to get within seven points.

Middleton checked back in and made a short jumper to end the run, but Caldwell-Pope pulled the Lakers within five with his eighth three-pointer with 6:52 remaining. However, that was as close as Los Angeles would get.

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