Lakers 107, Bucks 106: Running Diary

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We took a look at the Lakers – Bucks contest in Milwaukee while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as L.A. looked to win their second straight road game.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (15th straight game)
Bucks: Francisco Elson

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut

Hamblen, Jackson Demanding Focus
Phil Jackson mentioned in his pregame interview that the Lakers coaches specifically warned the Lakers that they would lose this game if they didn’t come with energy immediately. While the Bucks don’t look like the NBA’s best team on paper, they’re actually pretty good, particularly at home (9-3). Assistant coach Frank Hamblen reiterated Jackson’s point, saying that he fully expects L.A. to struggle if they’re unable to match Milwaukee’s energy. The lone American-born starter, Brandon Jennings, is from Compton, CA., while the other four hail from Cameroon (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute), Australia (Andrew Bogut), Argentina (Carlos Delfino) and Turkey (Ersan Ilyasova). That’s fun.

94567401_10First Quarter
10:59 I don’t know if there’s anyone associated with the Lakers that doesn’t want Pau Gasol shooting much more than seven times, as he did in Chicago, so his immediate 18-footer (swish) was a pleasant sign. Completely unrelated: there’s a great chili place (“Real Chili”) in Milwaukee. Guaranteed to brighten one’s day.

6:25 After surviving three early three-pointers from the Bucks, the Lakers smartly got the ball inside to Bynum, who dropped in a baby hook before swatting consecutive shots on separate Milwaukee possessions. Bryant followed with a three and Gasol an elbow jumper to cap a quick 7-0 run that gave L.A. a one-point lead.

0:23.8 Milwaukee’s Michael Redd, playing in just his seventh game of the season as he continues to come back from knee surgery, hit a jumper that put the Bucks up a point at quarter’s close. Something else you should know: two of Milwaukee’s players make key cameos in this amazing “Boom Goes the Dynamite!!” college “sportscast*.”
*Andrew Boh-got and Hah-kim Warrick.

Second Quarter
10:42 Phil Jackson specifically mentioned the effort of Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown as key to last night’s victory in Chicago, and the athletic twosome made an immediate impact in this one with some Farmar D (a swat of Luke Ridnour) and Brown’s two free throws at the other end.

9:55 Milwaukee, continuing to rock nothing but jump shots, got their sixth three-pointer to fall in 11 attempts, meaning 18-of-28 points had come from beyond the arc. Furthermore, they’d yet to get to the free throw line, and despite their arc success led by just two.

2:45 The bad news for the Bucks: Pau Gasol stuffed Bogut at the rim, then finished a dunk after a pretty wrap-around pass from Artest. The good news: mascot Bango appears to have recovered from ACL surgery last season, after a nasty fall through the rim at the All-Star festivities in Phoenix last season. I like him … cool Buck outfit. The half ended with just the second field goal for Jennings, which gave Milwaukee a two point edge (47-45). Gasol had 13 and 11 to pace the Lakers.

94567392_10Third Quarter
7:06 Gasol continued his success with a layup from Kobe’s hand, capping a 6-0 run that put the Lakers up 59-58. As always, L.A. was scoring easily when it managed to get the ball inside.

2:33 The Bucks converted only their second field goal in five minutes, a Charlie Bell three, to cut L.A.’s lead to 70-66 into a time out. The Lakers had steadily flexed their defensive muscles, forcing a bevy of clanked jumpers to outrebound the Bucks 10-5 at that point in the quarter. Gasol had 16 boards already to match his total in Chicago; remember, he had back-to-back 20 rebound games before the win over the Bulls.

0:03.7 If L.A.’s close to the quarter was good, then “Jersey Shore” isn’t an awesome show. The Lakers committed two turnovers and stood and watched while Bryant clanked a fadeaway jumper (7-of-18 through three), then committed fouls on defense to allow five Bucks points that left L.A. with just a 74-71 edge after they had taken over the game midway through the period.

Fourth Quarter
9:18 The Bucks carried some third quarter mojo into the early fourth to take the lead back when Ilyasova hit his second three-pointer to make it 79-78. The Turkish forward, impressive all night, got to 20 points on Milwaukee’s next possession to answer two Kobe free throws.

4:30 L.A. got its first sniff of serious trouble when Ilyasova laid the ball off to Redd for a dunk, his 10th field goal off the bench for 22 points, giving Milwaukee a five-point lead as the crowd exploded into a standing ovation for the first time.

0:31.5 How many times has Derek Fisher come through in the clutch for L.A. (rhetorical)? He did it again with a 17-foot jumper to cap the timeliest of 7-0 runs, putting the Lakers up two. But Andrew Bogut answered at the other end with a move around Gasol, plus the foul, to tie the game, before missing the free throw. Instead of calling time out and letting the Bucks set up, L.A. went to Kobe, who dribbled down the shot clock before missing a 15-footer at the buzzer. Overtime.

94567443_10Overtime
2:38 Gasol continued his monster game with another shot over Bogut, who’s no defensive slouch, to reach 26 points (with 21 boards) and get L.A. within one after four straight Bucks points. His 20-20 effort was L.A.’s first since March 24 of 2008, when Lamar Odom had 23 points and 21 rebounds at Golden State.

1:25 The house began to come down in Milwaukee as Ridnour pulled up in transition and stuck a jumper for a 106-100 Bucks lead. Things looking dire for L.A. But Bryant went off for five straight points, including an and-1 layup, before Artest cleared a defensive rebound with five seconds remaining to give the Lakers a chance…

0:00.1 Kobe. Kobe. Kobe. You know what happened. After catching the basketball nearly exactly in the same spot as his regulation miss, Bryant rose to dagger the Bucks with a silly fadeaway jumper as time expired, from about 15 feet over Charlie Bell.

And with that, L.A. had won its second straight road game, before a Saturday – Sunday back-to-back against New Jersey and Detroit. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
78 Rebounds for Pau Gasol in the last four games, a ridiculous average of 19 per game. His 22 boards were a career high for the Spaniard, who followed up games of 20-20-16. Gasol added 26 points, four assists, four blocks and a steal. Decent.

47.4 Lakers shooting percentage for the game after they caught fire late, erasing a poor 38.9 percent start after one.

39 Points for Kobe Bryant, including seven in overtime.

16 Lakers edge in free throws attempted, showing how many jumpers Milwaukee took. The Bucks did hit 10 threes, to just four from L.A., who got a big one when Artest got his overtime attempt to go down.

7 Turnovers by Kobe Bryant, after eight the night before. Phil Jackson said it has to do with his broken finger, and we’ll go along with that. I think he’s excused after the game winner.