Bucks Still in the Cold Against Lakers
Last minute heroics were not needed this time around as the Los Angeles Lakers led wire-to-wire, defeating the visiting Milwaukee Bucks, 95-77 at Staples Center. Andrew Bynum (17 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) dominated the boards in Pau Gasol’s fourth missed game due to a strained left hamstring. And with the Bucks unable to muster any offensive aptitude in the first quarter, the Lakers pulled out to a 24-8 lead after one. The Bucks shot 4-21 in the stanza, partly because of a more hyped-up Lakers defense, but mostly due to ineptitude to put the ball in the hole. Kobe Bryant (12 points on 4-21, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist in 29 minutes) struggled through his most evident poor shooting night in recent memory, going 1-14 in the first half. Kobe continues to struggle with his broken index finger, and Phil Jackson later revealed that he suspects that Kobe will go back to wearing a protective splint that he has shed in the past three games.
Lamar Odom (5 points, 17 rebounds, 9 assists) and Derek Fisher (11 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal) provided enough offense against the stagnant Bucks. Leading scorer Michael Redd (0 points in 12 minutes) appeared to re-injure his surgically repaired left knee early in the game, and left the contest with the assistance of teammates and the Bucks trainer. Early in the first quarter, he got tangled up with Ron Artest (2 points, 4 rebounds in 19 minutes) which sent Artest sprawling to the floor. Artest got up woozy after it appeared he jarred his head when he hit the ground. Shortly thereafter, Artest signaled to the bench that he wanted to come out of the game. The second period saw the Bucks regain some offensive momentum behind the play of their bench. Hakim Warrick (14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) and Charlie Bell (10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist) got the Bucks going, although they still trailed at halftime, 39-28. Neither team could find any rhythm as the game lagged on. Staples Center was as quiet as a church as both teams stumbled through their offensive sets.
With Kobe struggling and also picking up frustration fouls, Jackson went to the bench and both Shannon Brown (19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocked shots) and Jordan Farmar (17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal) responded. Brown’s half-court heave at the end of the third quarter propelled the Lakers to a 65-46 lead. The Bucks 31 fourth quarter points surpassed their entire first half point total. But the Lakers responded with 30 points of their own as they coasted to the finish line. The Lakers now embark on a two-game Texas swing with stops in San Antonio on Tuesday followed by a back-to-back contest against the Mavs on Wednesday.