Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening contest at Milwaukee, the Lakers in search of a back-to-back sweep for the first time all season, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Meeks, Bryant, Gasol and Howard
Bucks: B. Jennings, M. Ellis, M. Daniels, E. Ilyasova, L. Sanders
6:37 Picking up where he left off against Minnesota, Pau Gasol had a terrific start on offense, dropping off three pretty passes to teammates that resulted in 2 of 3 field goals at the rim. He added a jumper to put the Lakers up 8-2, though Milwaukee rallied to go up 12-10 thanks to a pair of three-pointers.
0:00 Coming into the game 35 points shy of passing Wilt Chamberlain for fourth on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, Kobe Bryant was off to a good start, scoring the final eight points of the quarter to give the Lakers a 25-18 lead. Dwight Howard was sitting on the bench for the final six minutes of the period after picking up two fouls, but he also had three blocks in limited time to discourage Bucks drives.
11:48 Mike D’Antoni has taken to sitting Nash around the 5-minute mark of the first and bringing him back to start the second quarter, encouraging him to take more control of the offense when Kobe rested. And he opened the second by hitting a triple, putting the Lakers up 10 points.
0:00 Nash continued to execute L.A.’s offense brilliantly in the opening six minutes of the quarter, allowing a 13-point lead as he reached 14 points with five assists after a quiet first quarter. When Bryant returned around the 5-minute mark, the Lakers were up 11 at 44-33, but by the half’s end, the lead was cut to only three at 56-53. Bryant had two of his five turnovers, leading directly to four of Milwaukee’s 17 fastbreak points, hit 1 of 3 shots and 3 of 4 free throws. L.A. also simply blew some defensive assignments, letting Ersan Ilyasova get a wide open look at a three in the final minute, joining Brandon Jennings with two makes from deep.
4:23 Riding Gasol post ups on Ilyasova early and layups from Nash and Jamison, the Lakers pushed their lead back to six, only to allow a 9-0 Bucks run that made it 72-69 for the home team. Turnovers continued to plague the Lakers, as Nash threw it away three times before getting a rest halfway through the quarter.
0:00 Larry Sanders typified Milwaukee’s athletic edge in a 29-21 third quarter with 13 points and six boards, helping allow an 82-77 lead (was as many as eight) heading into the fourth quarter. Nash and Kobe were looking particularly fatigued, and L.A. would need to rely more upon Howard in the final quarter to escape with a win.
7:05 As Bryant, Gasol and Nash continued to sit, Milwaukee got a fastbreak bucket from Ellis, catching a pass just out of Steve Blake’s reach, to allow a 92-89 lead. The Lakers had momentarily erased Milwaukee’s 8-point lead in the third quarter behind Jamison and Howard going into a time out.
3:20 The Lakers just didn’t have anything going, watching the Bucks fly by on defense (Monta Ellis eight of his 18 in the previous few minutes), with Bryant falling to 6 of 17 from the field, 1 of 5 in the fourth, as Nash continued to sit with perhaps a hip/back issue (nothing official from the team). They were in imminent danger of falling even with Utah and Dallas in the loss column at 36.
0:00 For the 15th time this season, the Lakers failed to sweep back to back games, falling 113-103 to Milwaukee a night after defeating Minnesota. Bryant made 18 of 20 free throws. Howard had 15 points and 15 boards, Gasol 12 and 9 in the losing effort. They’ll need a bounce back win at Sacramento on Saturday to salvage a .500 road trip that began with a loss at Golden State on Monday. We’ll see you in California’s capital.