The Lakers stayed in Los Angeles for seven of their first 10 contests of this season, venturing on the road only as far east as Denver, Colorado, and won their first eight before dropping the last two.
Time to hit the road.
Tuesday evening marks the start of a three-game Midwest swing through Milwaukee, Detroit and Minnesota, beginning with a Bucks team hungry to exact revenge for Kobe Bryant’s game-winning buzzer-beater over Charlie Bell that gave L.A. a 107-106 victory last time the two teams met at the Bradley Center.
After a poor start found the Bucks at a surprising 1-4, the Deer have rallied to win four of five games, including the past three, to even their record at 5-5. They’ve beaten the Knicks, Hawks and Warriors in consecutive contests and done so with defense, allowing 91 points or fewer in each of the last five games and an opponent to reach 100 points only once. The Lakers, meanwhile, lead the league with 112.5 points per game, but Phil Jackson would seemingly be more pleased if the twice defending champs picked things up a bit at the defensive end themselves.
Jackson’s team will have to pay particular attention to Bucks center Andrew Bogut, returning from a gruesome season-ending dislocation of his right elbow, sprained right wrist and broken right hand after an extremely hard foul. Bogut is averaging just 12.8 points compared to his 15.9 last season, but still leads the team in rebounds (10.6) and field goal percentage (51.6) and blocked seven shots against Golden State.
Brandon Jennings, fresh off a terrific rookie year, leads the team in scoring with 15.7 points as well as assists with 6.3 per game, while John Salmons and Corey Maggette form a solid scoring tandem on the wings in the absence of injured starter Carlos Delfino (neck strain). Jennings (10-of-19) and Salmons (8-of-15) have combined to make 52.9 percent of their threes in the last four games. Maggette’s 12.9 points lead the Bucks’ reserves, who have outscored the opponent’s bench in 7-of-9 games.
The Lakers swept the season series last season for the second consecutive year, and hold a 76-43 all-time edge over the Bucks. L.A. has had success in the Bradley Center of late, winning 7-of-10 games, and have not lost since Nov. 21, 2007 (103-110).