Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday night contest against Milwaukee, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Bucks: B. Jennings, M. Ellis, L. Mbah a Moute, E. Ilyasova, L. Sanders
9:16 An excellent start for the Lakers, focused on both ends, was felt on the scoreboard with a 14-4 burst forcing a Bucks time out. Metta World Peace drained two triples, and Dwight Howard converted two Bryant assists plus two free throws to lead the way. Some interesting matchups were in play, with Bryant defending Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, and Earl Clark on Monta Ellis, leaving Steve Nash for Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Fight quickness with length, being the idea.
0:00 The starters continued to play excellent ball, pushing the lead to as many as 12, but with Bryant, Nash and Howard getting some early rest, the Bucks closed the quarter on a 16-4 run to cut the lead to only two at quarter’s end (29-27).
5:05 Howard continued to excel on offense thanks to pretty feeds from Bryant and Nash (six assists apiece, many to him, with his sixth field goal in seven attempts. Bryant followed with a breakaway dunk off Jamison’s steal to put the Lakers up 45-44, after they’d fallen behind by three when Mike Dunleavy hit his second triple. L.A. was largely in control, but the Bucks had climbed back in against the LAL bench, and then balanced out the starters by attacking the offensive glass (nine offensive boards for 11 second chance points).
0:00 Bryant closed a masterful first half with a quick scoring run, draining three jumpers to add 16 points to his six assists, after he focused on getting Howard going early. The Lakers closed the quarter on an 8-2 run, with Bryant spurring ‘em on, after the Bucks had stayed close through the middle period of the period.
9:50 L.A.’s starters continued to outplay those of Milwaukee (whose bench had gotten ‘em back in it), with Bryant, Howard and Nash combining to push the lead back to double digits when Kobe’s steal got World Peace loose for a transition layup. Howard already had 21 points, finishing off Nash’s 10th assist, and the 22nd assist on 24 field goals, a very impressive total since L.A. averages only 22 assists for an entire game on the season.
0:40.0 Dunleavy committed an ill-advised foul far away from the rim to give Kobe two bonus free throws, and after Mbah a Moute got a jumper to go on the other end, Kobe answered with a pull-up jumper to put the Lakers up 79-73 heading into the fourth quarter.
9:40 With Howard and World Peace joining Morris, Duhon and Jamison, L.A. started the fourth in style. Duhon nailed a three off a nice MWP assist, then fed Howard for one dunk and watched as Howard man-handled rookie John Henson on the next trip down to allow an 88-75 lead.
0:00 Bryant capped a terrific game with a long three-pointer to reach 31 points on 12 of 19 field goals, plus his six dimes and constant effort defending Brandon Jennings, who finished just 4 of 14 from the field for 12 points and only one assist. Howard wasn’t bad himself, notching 31 points with 16 boards, while Nash had 11 of the team’s 30 assists, the second straight game over 30 (32 vs. Cleveland). The final scoreline: 104-88 for the home team. That’s two straight blow out wins to snap a 6-game losing streak, with a big test coming up on Thursday against an annoyed Miami Heat team who’s struggled on their Western Conference road trip. We’ll see you there.