For a moment, it was like déjà vu. Three pointers raining in from everywhere, it seemed – from Brandon Jennings’ hands, Earl Boykins, Drew freakin’ Gooden. Milwaukee Bucks? Looked like the Phoenix Suns for minute there. The only difference was that after hitting 6-10 from downtown in the first half, the Bucks actually went cold, going 3-14 the rest of the way. And the Lakers? They didn’t fall in love with their three as much as the home team did, though such couldn’t be said of Shannon Brown, who shot 4-5 himself from behind the arc. No, the threes didn’t make this game what it was, but the D sure did.

The Milwaukee Bucks boasted a formidable defensive reputation coming into this game. They’ve held teams to 43% shooting, haven’t given up more than 91 points a game and they’d won four of their last five contests. It has been an impressive beginning for a team coming off their first playoff appearance in years. Tonight, however, those stats were pushed back by the defending champions who shot 54% to accumulate 118 points.

Kobe Bryant was all business in this game. His first field goal was off a Derek Fisher deflection that earned him an easy fast break basket plus a free throw. He also went coast to coast for two, threw in a leaning jumper here, a double team with Matt Barnes there, which resulted in another and-1, a touch pass to Pau Gasol for an uncontested dunk, and suddenly he had 31 points on 10-23, was a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line, had seven rebounds and three assists. Bryant did everything needed of him in Milwaukee tonight, except a buzzer beating game winner.

Helping carry the load, however, it was another productive night for Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, 31 points on 13-24, 17 rebounds and 10 assists. Now with Theo Ratliff out of commission for the next 4-6 weeks, the Lakers’ frontline has thinned further and the Gasol-Odom tandem poured in almost 80 minutes again this evening.

At the Lakers’ beck and call, however, is a hardworking bench who know how to grind it out. Matt Barnes, getting 27 minutes of burn, was not only a spark offensively for the Lakers (nine points on 3-4, 2-2 from 3PT), he was the defensive leader off the bench with four of five of his rebounds on the Bucks’ side of the court and, though he’s only credited with one, blocked Andrew Bogut’s many attempts at a hoop from under the basket late in the fourth quarter.
Shannon Brown, who appears to improve even further with each game, scored 21 points on 7-9, including 4-5 from downtown. Each time the Lakers’ lead was reduced, Brown would hit a timely three to bring the lead back to double digits. His confidence in his shooting ability, and his ability as a player in general, is light years from where it was a season ago and the Lakers are better for it.

Steve Blake (six points on 2-3 from 3PT, two assists and a steal) may not have a box score to compete with the Chris Pauls or Deron Williams of the league, but he plays a veteran role on this team that is invaluable to the success of this season for the Lakers and Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher know it.

Even Devin Ebanks, who tapped the ball from under Corey Magette’s arm and earned himself a dunk and one, and Luke Walton who didn’t score but handed out three assists, are reasons why this Lakers’ bench is so dependable, and the Lakers will need them more than ever on these road games.

The Lakers were and are fully aware of how they let their last two games slide against Denver and Phoenix – defensive deficiency. Their offense had been clicking so soundly that they, though momentarily, took for granted that there is another side of the court. Tonight, they may have scored 118 points, but they won by locking down on shooters (again, they kept Milwaukee to 3-14 from behind the arc in the second half) and though they were outrebounded, they were by only seven.

The road is where a team can measure themselves against themselves and so far the Lakers are standing tall.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
Let’s try to avoid a 3-game losing streak.
Half-time Thoughts: 57-59 – These Milwaukee Bucks are no flash in the pan it seems. They’ve built on being a playoff team from last season and, shooting 55%, are showing the defending champions they’re here to play.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: Whichever official called Lamar Odom on a flagrant-1 for hit the back of Drew Gooden’s arm. Flagrant-1? Really?
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: The Lakers bench, no question! The Renegades didn’t just fill in empty minutes. They played defense, they scored, and built that lead going into the 4th quarter. 39 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and a whole lot of hustle.

  • Ruin818

    How much would it suck right now if Brown was putting up these types of numbers on another squad if we had let him walk????

    • LA :D

      BROWN SIX MAN OF D YEAR!!!!

  • jang

    Is there any possible that we can gather enough bronze to immortalize Kobe Bryant’s sac?

    http://hoopstopia.com/got-statues/

    • http://www.twitter.com/TLN24 Marwan Marzina

      Ask LeBron, he has plenty of bronze.

      • 242LakerFan

        OH!

        • LakerNationCitizen

          Wait a minute there, Mr. TLN. All Lebron has is talk and a lot of pooofy media. He ain’t even got bronze!

  • gameplan

    that is why I feel bad for phil when he brought out brown from the suns game when he is playing well in the 4rt. I’m glad that he let blake n brown played and finish the game. dereck is good but phil should give brown n blake confidence in the last minute co’z I believe they shot better than fish.

    • Yep

      Honestly…I was hoping Shannon would be taking the last second threes in the suns game…not Kobe.

      • Roger

        (Phoneix game)I agree, but I also think fish should have been given an opportunity there was a sequence there @ the end were Fish was asking for the ball in back of 3point line and Kobe was double teamed and that shot would have tied the game, before the T was called on Odom. Instead Kobe took shot and missed….result Loss…Yet We LIVE by KOBE we DIE by KOBE…still Il take what KOBE gives us anytime..

        • gameplan

          @roger we already lost that game by letting the suns pour 22 3′s, that’s kobe’s rule you can change that, that is why he made so many winning games. The lead is 6 with 30 seconds left he had to shoot the ball early and hoping it will goes in then defend the 24 seconds, and hoping to tie the game in the last possession. That was also jordan rule or let as say phil’s rule. If the ref should have called that foul to lamar that could be still a ball game, but still that night is for suns.

  • Robert.

    Seems like the refs have been picking on LO lately. First, he gets a T in Sunday night’s game, and now a flagrant? LO has always been a nice, and unselfish player, and now he’s a target too? There could only be one reason: he is now elevated his status in the NBA – maybe some might not think All-Star, but his level of play has gone up.
    .
    Kobe also got another T for throwing his arm out at Bogut. Similar call to one years ago, when Ginobili was apparently hit (in the same manner). Recall that led to a 1 game suspension, and he missed out on a game at MSG (New Yorkers were pissed, and so was Kobe).
    .
    OK, a few T’s within a few days. What’s going on? What’s the “T-count” in Miami?

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    kobe is the dirtiest player in the league,he needs to watch himself.

    • Boococky

      u just been boocockied

  • rudy t.

    i may be nitpicking here, but i’m getting a bit tired of not seeing actual players’ names on the most thoughtful/less player part of the report…
    enough of “the lakers bench”, “the lakers starters”, “the officials”… DROP NAMES! :))
    it’s such a wonderful report most of the time… no use trying to be nice! :)
    personally shannon brown’s the most thoughtful player of the game… while… (okay, wow.. this IS a bit hard…) i’m going with ronron for most thoughtless… JUST BECAUSE IT’S SO DIFFICULT TO CHOOSE. HAHAHAHA. :D

    • Anna

      Would giving the individual names of the players and referees be better? Sometimes it IS difficult to choose. Last night it WAS the Lakers bench that was the most thoughtful, COLLECTIVELY, but i’ll keep that in mind. thanks =)

  • 242LakerFan

    Here’s a sure indicator of Steve Blake’s effectiveness off the bench. One of the Bucks’ TV announcers called him “Nash” TWICE in the same comment!

    • gameplan

      heard it. LOL!

  • http://www.twitter.com/kevinsmoore moorepower310

    Shannon Brown! Lol I just want to tak about our rookies! They are both playing really well, especially caracter. Any think they will make play in the rookie-soph game on all star weekend? What about making NBA rookie All-Team 1,2 or 3?

  • 242LakerFan

    I love the way Shannon has suddenly developed a well-rounded game and is making great decisions and concentrating on his shot. Maybe Mitch should nearly let more players go and see how they react on the court.
    Hmmm…

  • laker warrior

    Shannon is hot but I think Phil knows he will eventually go in the tank. That why Blake is still more effective.
    As of right now Blake and Shannon are as equal to Fisher if not better in 3 s.
    Fisher is still a warrior and great vetran but he needs to step a side . Let the future began already.
    As for Bynum if he s not ready to play trade his ass get Dampier . Trade him and a number one pick Luke and Sasha for Carmelo. And a six pack three free car washes 10 free VIP passes at the Spearmint Rhino.
    Deal done. Bynum dosent give a shit we see him at the stripper clubs around Los Angeles all the time.

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