The Bucks started out yet another game flat, and Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard went to work on them both early and often. The duo evenly split 62 points in a 104-88 hammering of Milwaukee.
Bryant hit Howard with crowd-pleasing alley-oops on the game’s first two possessions. In fact, the Lakers made eight baskets en route to a 23-12 lead midway through the first quarter. Seven of those baskets were layups, dunks or three-pointers. All eight were assisted.
The Lakers’ five starters out-assisted the Bucks’ starters by a 24-7 margin.
Ball movement was an issue all game long for the Bucks, save for when Beno Udrih (14 points, 7 assists) and Mike Dunleavy (10 points) were in the game. The Lakers picked at the scabs of the Bucks’ greatest weaknesses, and in those few moments when they didn’t, Kobe opened new wounds by taking — and making — turnaround fallaways of a daring level of difficulty.
Still, the Bucks had their moments. Larry Sanders pinned and erased a Kobe layup at the rim. Brandon Jennings converted a four-point play. The Bucks bench outplayed their ghastly Lakers counterparts, erasing the early double-digit deficit and earning Milwaukee a 44-41 lead with 5:20 left in the first half.
But Jennings and the starters for both teams re-entered soon after, and the Lakers took control again. Jennings had just one assist for the game and his shooting touch for the game wasn’t anywhere good enough to justify that approach. Kobe Bryant guarded him for much of the game and his ball pressure disrupted the Bucks’ offensive rhythm. On the other end, Howard had his way with the Bucks, partly because Sanders got into foul trouble early.
Ersan Ilyasova muscled his way to five very physical and competitive rebounds in the first quarter before mostly shrinking from the spotlight the rest of the game.
John Henson played 18 minutes and took his lumps both inside from Dwight Howard and out from Antawn Jamision, who hit three three-pointers. In the case of Jamison, though, Henson was shading in a step to lend help to beaten defenders when the kick-out passes found the Lakers’ backup power forward alone from long range.
Samuel Dalembert converted a few shots inside and rebounded well (five in 12 minutes). However, he was not effective defensively and committed one backbreaking turnover that was tantamount to a Lakers outlet pass.
The Bucks wasted an effort where they had sizable advantages on the offensive glass (21 to 8) and fouls (20 to 14), but it’s obviously easier to horde a bunch of offensive rebounds while shooting 36% from the field.
The second half saw the two teams combine for 13 of the game’s 19 turnovers as the game escalated into an up-and-down race of miscues worthy of the tears of James Worthy.
A few tweets
Beat writer for the Lakers (17-21) dismisses the Bucks (19-18) as a crappy team. He may have a point, but still…
Lakers need more of these home wins against weak teams to make the playoffs. Sunday was a good start, tonight was a solid second step.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 16, 2013
The Bucks defense was a mess for most of the game, and the alley-oops to Howard early totally crushed the normally effective Bucks’ help defense.
This does seem like a pattern:
@brewhoop Roscoe’s the night before a game probably isn’t genius.
— Wis Sports Pulse (@WisSportsPulse) January 16, 2013
Pics of the Night:
There are a lot of fourth walls in Hollywood, but I wasn’t expecting one at midcourt.