Lakers 79, Bucks 98: Dec. 21 Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening game against Milwaukee at STAPLES Center, the team’s first at home after a 6-1 road trip through the Midwest and East Coast, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Bucks: K. Dooling*, C. Douglas-Roberts, J. Salmons, E. Ilyasova, A. Bogut

9:42 The Lakers coaches love it when Lamar Odom’s aggressive offensively, and they may as well have been watching Maverick in the final scene of Top Gun in the first two minutes, when Odom flew by Ersan Ilyasova for three layups off the glass.

5:46 The Bucks came into the contest averaging the fewest points in the NBA, but that didn’t seem to bother ‘em early as they made 8-of-10 shots to take a 19-14 lead. Andrew Bogut led the way with a perfect 3-for-3, all in the paint, as Andrew Bynum watched from the bench in anticipation of his first home appearance of the season.

0:00 After a sluggish opening few minutes that seem to happen often when teams return home from long road trips, the Lakers picked things up defensively, and used a 6-0 run at the other end to cut Milwaukee’s lead to 25-22 after the first.

8:33 L.A.’s bench has been terrific all season in part because the players have been more than happy to play Phil Jackson’s way. It was thus not surprising to see Matt Barnes come of the floor into a time out upset that he took a contested three, not happy that he subsequently converted an and-1 layup and a baseline dunk for five straight Lakers points that cut Milwaukee’s lead to one.

2:18 After L.A. momentarily took the lead, the Bucks reeled off a quick 7-0 run to reclaim a 48-42 advantage, the Milwaukee starters holding a 42-26 advantage over those of the Lakers.

0:00 Bynum had played the bulk of the second quarter, and was effective against Bogut, but the Bucks played loose to lead by as many as seven, taking a 50-46 lead into halftime. Milwaukee’s effort was shown through a 22-16 board edge, while 13 points from Ersan Ilyasova and 11 from Bogut led the way on offense.

5:57It’s a common sight to see the Lakers step up their defense in third quarters after relatively poor first halves, and that’s what we saw for the opening six minutes, LAL forcing four TO’s and keeping Milwaukee to eight points before taking the lead (59-58) on a Bryant fadeaway jumper.

2:56 Gasol’s jumper followed Bynum’s layup to tie the score at 63, as the Lakers used the twin 7-footers with Odom getting a breather on the bench. Milwaukee didn’t have much behind Bogut in the middle on paper, but were getting scrappy effort from everybody to keep things competitive.

0:00.1 John Salmons, who turned on his scoring in the third quarter after nine first half points, hit a buzzer-beating leaner to cap a quarter in which he scored the final four points to reach 17 and put the Bucks up 72-66.

7:47 The Lakers had picked up their effort, but were struggling to get over the hump, as witnessed by Earl Boykins collecting a ball twice blocked by Bynum on the same possession and sticking it back in. Still, a Gasol put-back had the Lakers within five at 77-72 with plenty of time on the clock.

4:51 Odom didn’t like it, but he was called for a foul on the driving Salmons nonetheless, which allowed Milwaukee its biggest lead at 83-72, the fans getting restless as Ilyasova gathered the long rebound when Salmons missed the second. Boykins then found Bogut for a layup, and the Bucks’ lead was 13 with 4:16 to play.

0:00 It didn’t get any better for the home team after that; the Bucks closed out the fourth quarter with surprising ease to win 98-79, holding the Lakers to 13 points in the final period. LAL just couldn’t match Milwaukee’s energy, as Phil Jackson openly worried prior to the game, and paid with a loss.