The Lakers always have a size and length advantage in the paint thanks to their pair of 7-footers in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, and when the team opens a road back-to-back with Milwaukee on Saturday evening, that edge will be greater than usual.
This because Bucks center Andrew Bogut fractured his left ankle in his 12th game of the season (@HOU, 1/25), an injury that is expected to keep him out between eight and 12 weeks, as Bucks GM John Hammond announced on Thursday.
The Australian big man, taken No. 1 overall in 2005, was averaging 11.3 points, and team-highs 8.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 30 minutes per game.
The Bucks are expected to start Drew Gooden in Bogut’s place, while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders or Jon Leuer could also see increased playing time. Lakers coach Mike Brown coached Gooden in Cleveland for three years, with Gooden playing a key starting role on the 2007 team that went to the Finals. This season, Gooden had three outstanding games in Bogut’s absence, including a 24-point, 12-rebound performance in a loss to Utah and an 18-point, 13-board game in a loss to the Clippers.
Nonetheless, Bynum and Gasol tower over Gooden (6-10, 250) and Mbah a Moute (6-8, 230), encouraging L.A. to aggressively pound the ball inside offensively … even if that’s always a major part of the team’s game plan.
Though the Bucks have generally played L.A. very tough, the Lakers have managed to eight of their last 10 in Milwaukee and 6-of-7 overall, losing only a Dec. 21, 2010 contest at home.
This season’s Bucks have been led by point guard Brandon Jennings, an L.A. native, who’s averaging 20.2 points (44% FG’s) and 5.5 assists to pace his team. Stephen Jackson, acquired in a trade with Charlotte that included Corey Maggette in the offseason, scores 13.0 points per game but is shooting only 37%, while Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Delfino are each just a tad under a 10.0 point per game average.
Tip time is at 5:30 p.m., when L.A. will look to snap a 3-game road losing streak.