LOS ANGELES (AP) — D’Angelo Russell scored 21 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and hit a go-ahead jumper with 5.9 seconds to play, and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame LeBron James’ injury absence for a 123-122 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.

Spencer Dinwiddie blocked Damian Lillard’s step-back jumper right before the buzzer to preserve a stirring win for the Lakers while James sat out to rest his sore left ankle, missing his ninth game of the season overall due to the persistent injury.

They were carried by Russell, who tied his career high with nine 3-pointers while also handing out nine assists in a spectacular performance. He scored eight points in the final 1:13 while the Lakers rallied from a late deficit.


Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. Lillard scored eight of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, but the Bucks couldn’t hang on in their second consecutive loss.

Milwaukee took its first lead since early in the second quarter on Antetokounmpo’s jumper with 2:53 to play. Lillard converted a four-point play two possessions later, but Russell trimmed the Bucks’ lead to one point on a three-point play with 39 seconds left.

Lillard missed a tough layup to give the Lakers a chance, and Russell hit a leaning 13-footer with 5.9 seconds to play. Dinwiddie, who was making his first start for his hometown Lakers, then smothered Lillard’s final shot.

Antetokounmpo had his 43rd career triple-double, his eighth of the season and his first since Jan. 24. Pat Connaughton scored a season-high 17 points and hit a key 3-pointer down the stretch.

Anthony Davis had 22 points — just two in the fourth quarter and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who have won 11 of 15 as they fight to gain any ground in the competitive Western Conference.

James hobbled off the court with four minutes left in the Lakers’ loss to Sacramento on Wednesday night with the latest flare-up of an ankle injury that has bothered the leading scorer in NBA history throughout his 21st season. Coach Darvin Ham said the Lakers don’t consider the injury to be season-threatening, even though James also missed two games around the All-Star break.

Russell again raised his offensive output when forced to play without James or Davis, shooting confidently while also distributing the ball effectively on offense. He hit four 3-pointers while staking the Lakers to a halftime lead, and they stayed in front throughout the second half until Antetokounmpo and Lillard took over.

Austin Reaves added 18 points for the Lakers.

Before the game, Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers said Khris Middleton is “close” to returning from the sprained left ankle that has sidelined him for 13 games since Feb. 6. Rivers didn’t dismiss the possibility of Middleton playing against the Clippers on Sunday.

“He could be,” Rivers said. “I don’t know. He’s going to go hard (in practice Saturday). I’m (feeling) he’ll be back sooner than later, whatever that means to you.”


Bucks: At Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

Lakers: Host Minnesota on Sunday night.