Game Preview & Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

Kurt —  January 11, 2008

Records: Lakers 23-11; Bucks 15-20
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.2 (5th); Bucks 104.6 (20th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.1 (7th); Bucks 110.8 (27th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Bucks: Mo Williams, Michael Redd, Bobby Simmons, Yi Jianlian, Andrew Bogut

Lakers Notes: Can you really get enough Andrew Bynum love?

David Thorpe, ESPN.com’s best analyst (for my money) breaks down Bynum is a (for now) free post on the Web site. Here are a few highlights, but you really need to read the entire thing.

The Lakers play at the fifth fastest pace in the NBA and Bynum is a beneficiary of their style and speed. He rarely races down the floor, choosing instead to run methodically rim-to-rim (even in transition) and looking to make contact with his defender inside. He occasionally sets a drag screen for the guard but even then he heads right to the paint afterward hoping for the quick lob.

Credit Phil Jackson and the Lakers for recognizing that Bynum is most effective when the defense is still getting set, while part of that number also comes from offensive rebounds. Still, as defenses retreat worrying about Kobe, it’s often Bynum who hurts them.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar deserves much praise for Bynum’s development. Most impressively, Bynum has learned how to use his size, speed and length in a far more productive way. Just as Shaq excelled because he had both the body and the mind-set to use his body, so it is with Bynum. He has a different body, but a similar mind-set.

On the glass, he’s active and his strong hands enable him to pull down 50/50 balls with regularity. He also seems to be more engaged in the whole process — rebounds start with “want to” and Bynum has that now.

If Bynum makes just marginal strides in his next two years, he could grow into a dominant player. And if, by 21, he makes the same phenomenal jump he’s made this season, we could be talking about one of the top two true centers in the league next year.

The Bucks Coming In: The Bucks are the proving the Ewing Theory of late — they have a three game winning streak, all while Michael Redd is sitting. Redd is expected to play tonight, according to the latest reports, but those can be about as accurate as the local weatherman.

Mo Williams has been playing great ball for the Bucks in the last 10 games, averaging 21.8 points and 7.4 assists per game in that stretch. He also is hot shooting — 42.9% from three in the last 10 so you have to stay with him out high.

Of course, there is Redd, who dropped 26 on the Lakers back in November. He is one of the games better pure shooters (even if his eFG% is below 50% this season). Also, the Bucks run a balanced attack with five guys averaging double figures in points.

What is hurting the Bucks is defense — they are 27th in the league in defensive efficiency, and only one other team allows other teams to shoot a higher percentage against them (the Knicks). The Bucks have been struggling to defend the point and in the paint (last meeting with the Lakers Fisher had 14 points on 71% shooting and Bynum had 16-13).

Last Time These Two Met: The fourth quarter was one of the worst 12 minutes of basketball the Lakers have played all year, as they got outscored by 12, gave up the lead and lost. The Lakers played one of their worst defensive games overall, allowing the Bucks as a team to shoot 54.3% (eFG%), which is 6% higher than their season average.

That was back in November, the Lakers have played much better of late.

Keys To The Game: The Lakers have to stop the high screen and roll. Last time these two met the Bucks ran that play a lot, particularly in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers had no answer. Not only did Williams and Redd (with the ball) get a lot of good shots, but the Lakers help defenders were collapsing and that left Bucks shooters open at the three point line. The Lakers defended that same problem much better against the Hornets a couple nights ago, they will need that same level of defensive performance.

The Lakers should be able to get their points, particularly if they get thhe ball on the block to Bynum and Odom and play inside-out. According to the Lakers.com scouting report, expect to see some zone defense. As always, attack a zone in its weak center and that opens up shots over the top of it.

Also, the Bucks bench has been a key to their recent run, the Lakers need to win the battle of the bench tonight and not rely too much on their starters.

Where you can watch: Game time is 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into Fox Sports, or you can watch the ESPN broadcast as we are going national, baby.

Kurt

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44 responses to Game Preview & Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

  1. The NBA Page @ ESPN is littred with Lakers stuff. Not only Thorpe (who is the best; imagine watching a game with that guy) but with a cameo in the Suprises list in the Daily Dime.

    *Hopefully the Lakers can stop themselves from giving this game away.

    *I like games against other young/up and coming Centers like Bogut. I use them as measuring stick games for Bynum. He’s done well against Howard, Chandler, and Bogut (last game) so I hope that continues.

    *Besides Mo Williams, Charlie Bell has found his groove lately too. Maybe he’s over his funk after not being able to sign with the Heat when the Bucks matched their offer sheet. Farmar/Critt need to watch him tonight and not let him get in a rhythm.

  2. off topic:
    from SI.com
    4 Stars with presidential traits
    =================
    4. Kevin Garnett as Barack Obama. Like Obama, KG is a unifier and a preacher of hope as well as The Story of this NBA season. But can he finish what he has started?

    3. Tim Duncan as John McCain. You know what Duncan stands for and he’s going to stick to his principles regardless of what anybody thinks. Like McCain over the previous year, Duncan tends to withdraw during much of the regular season before gathering momentum for the big postseason run.

    2. Steve Nash as John Edwards. Nash carries a populist message — he plays with passion in the name of team play, and he wasn’t afraid to speak out against the war in Iraq. He has a hardcore following, but will he ever get over the top?

    1. Kobe Bryant as Hilary Clinton. Kobe is a polarizing figure with high positives and negatives. He is trying to revive his championship legacy of a few years ago, but a return to the NBA Finals no longer seems inevitable.

    :-)

  3. 2. McCain stick to his guns? The McCain of the last run for president and this one are different, his maverick days are behind him.

  4. The second I read “KG is Obama”, my first thought was “I guess that means Kobe = Hillary.”

  5. Bynum = Huckabee

    “Where the hell did this guy come from…he might actually have the goods.”

  6. I dont want to be too political but Huckabee has no goods whatsoever. the guy doens’t deserve an ounce of respect much less a vote.

    Don’t compare AB to him… ever.

  7. Phil Jackson is Dennis Kucinich: The older guy with the unreasonably hot younger wife/girlfriend.

  8. Earl Boykins = Dennis Kucinich
    You can make your own caption to this one.
    Now to the game. I am looking forward to tonights game. I remember that fourth quarter pretty vividely and I am sure the players remember it too. I don’t think we will see the same result as we did last time. Ariza on defense will be a big factor and so will Andrew in the middle. He has been on a tear and I see that continuing tonight. The lakers did a good job against the shooters for the Hornets I hope they will be able to do the same tonight.
    Random thought, Radman has not been playing much, good or bad? I am mixed he can shoot the ball at times but he is a huge liability on defense.

  9. You mention the zone defense as something the Lakers may see from the Bucks tonight. This got me thinking: zone d isn’t a problem for the Lakers this season. Last year it was practically offensive kryptonite. Any team that could execute and was actually coached would trot it out in the second half. Game over.

    I wonder if David Thorpe could tell me why it isn’t such a big deal this year?

  10. The Lakers are being shown nationally this year more than I can ever recall.

  11. The national games are amazing this year! I have been doing some traveling and haven’t been in LA to watch local tv for the games, such as tonight. Thankfully, up in Davis there is a convenient bar called The Graduate that has an overwhelming number of tap beers and plasma TVs!!! woot woot… ESPN it is!!

  12. One reason zone defenses aren’t as effective this year is more efficient perimeter shooting – D Fish is a big upgrade over Smush, Farmar has developed his jumper, and when healthy, Rad is hitting his 3s on a more consistent basis.

  13. 10 – Lakers get the max amount of televised games a year every year. I believe Phoenix and Cleveland also got the max this year.

  14. we’re gonna be seeing a lot of the Heat on national television the rest of the way. Ugh.

    Does sasha come back tonight? Does Chris Mihm? Does radman?

  15. During last night’s Utah-Suns game they talked a bit about how the Jazz were so much better last year against the zone than they are this year and they attributed a lot of that to the absence of Derek Fisher. They were saying Fisher being a much better shooter than Brewer is what allowed Utah to easily bust a zone, and it made me think that may be a big reason the Lakers are so much better against it this year. The Lakers do have 6 guys averaging over 35% from 3-pt range this year (and Kobe isn’t one of them, he’s just below it at 34%), and Fish is leading the team in that area shooting almost 44% from 3, so that’s probably a big reason why they’re not struggling against the zone this year like they have in years past.

  16. WildYams, that’s a good point about all the long-range shooters busting the zone. If you can force the exterior guys to extend to cover shooters then you can get isolation and quick-hitters inside with Bynum, who can score one-on-one. If they fall back to take away Drew, it’s bombs away. Either way the Lakers win, if they are recognize the D and are smart about it.

  17. wildyams, you are everywhere, my friend. truehoop, kd’s blog, fb&g. i’m loving it.

  18. Darius, never underestimate how bored I am at work all day :)

  19. This is from last game but DID ANYONE see the touch Crittenton-break, lob-touch pass then Coby Karl layup? Has anyone got a tube on it? It was amazing!

    If our young players have that kind of confidence to do that play in the middle of the game as the 8th, 11th and 13th players off the bench, then we’re seeing something special with this team.

  20. Sorry if this has already been discussed but I stumbled across this nugget and got a little bit excited – the Lakers have the highest scoring differential in the west. By a lot. They lead with +6.8, followed by the Spurs with +5.6, and Suns with +5.1. See? Exciting.

  21. ESPN was very responsible choosing New Orleans v. Miami tonight. When 3/4 of their viewers give up and go out to dinner, a movie or a bar it will really give a boost to the national economy.

  22. Bynum is almost becoming an automatic HALFTIME double-double. That’s scary.

  23. nice to see Ronny get a little more burn tonight. does anybody have ideas on PJ’s rotation theories, more specifically why he played all 12 guys already in the first half?

    JVG is really ripping into the other commentator tonight. He’s made four or five statements like, “if you say that again, I’m really going to let the viewers know you know nothing about basketball.” I feel like one of those is also warranted for all the exclamations of “Bynum’s SO much better than last year!” We get it already. I love AB’s growth, but let’s have more comments about exactly what that means. Like the JVG comment about his pivot foot, nicely followed by a clip of him shuffling a bit (although fouled). JVG’s voice reminds me of Cheryl Miller’s, only higher.

  24. I don’t like what I am seeing and noticing from the box scores. It seems Mo Will has been forcing his way through the defense. Its the brokeback defense once again and the Lakers hae to do a better job if they want to win this.

    Imagine Milwaukee was given a +15.5 before the game.

  25. the game is streaming at espn360.com if any of you aren’t near a TV

  26. No tacos. LOL

    Did anyone find this funny?

  27. Yes, the no tacos was funny….and so was Andrew’s inadvertent F-bomb during the post-game interview.

  28. Van Gundy Hating on the Tacos.

    Made me laugh. Really like him as a commenter, knows his stuff.

  29. 28) I agree. Van Gundy made me laugh on a couple of occasions. He was even talking about Good Charlotte, and also Ronny being on the All NBA First Team on bench cheering.

  30. Wow, Lindsey Soto is a pretty bad interviewer. Did she just make up the Taco Bell nickname on the spot for Charlie Bell, just so she could work in the taco reference? Michael Redd quote: “I don’t really know what his nickname is.”

  31. whoa! great wina again! can’t remember when was the last time the lakers won 5 straight. the yr they missed the playoffs, it was 2 game win streak at the most, season after, it became a 3-game streak, then a loss, last season was stil 3, this season they had i think 2 4 game win streaks… I hope they can ride this streak to double digits. that would really get them to the next level.

    The difference with this team from seasons past is someone else can carry the scoring load night in night out. it used to be just kobe. Now, its fish, bynum, bench-mob. this results in Kobe being able to pick his spots, and saving on his energy both short term (for the game), and long term (for the playoffs).

    this game is an example of the emergence of the team and other players. The past few games, kobe has let the others carry the scoring load. sitting back in a sense coz the system is working, everyone is contributing. Tonight, fisher was off, odom and the bench mob had a night off, KB24 senses it, and explodes for 37pts while still getting his usual 5 rebs 7 assists. thats why I believe (bias aside) that he should win mvp this season. he makes his teammates better, team is winning, and he still gets his shots.

    much props to Andrew “the beast” Bynum for another “beastly” performance. 25pts 17rebs 3blocks.

    great win to keep the momentum going. the lakers are officially on a roll!!!

  32. another great win for the Lakers… i definitely enjoyed the 2 minute conversations about tacos!!! who ever thought espn know so much about tacos… good times, thanx Van Gundy!

  33. This team is rolling. Great job lakers.

  34. During the whole Taco thing I was thinking the same thing Van Gundy was, if that chant was going on and I was on the other team (or the coach) I’d do anything I could to mess that up. Like take a meaningless foul with 16 seconds left so I could get another possession.

    Still, it makes me laugh. And if we’re worried about tacos it’s another easy win, which tastes good too (and probably has fewer preservatives).

  35. If the Bucks were as motivated about winning games as much as they were motivated to prevent tacos, they’d be a much better team. I thought that was a laaazy game.

  36. Sometimes it seems as though Kobe performs better when he’s distracted (either physically or mentally) than when he’s free and clear. It’s as though he needs that challenge to really get him geared in.

  37. The game seemed almost a repeat of the Milwaukee victory. The Bucks were not like the previous 4 teams the Lakers played. They were going to hang close, and pull it out at the end-and they matched up well against the Lakers.

    Bigfoot Bynum wasn’t buying it at all. First he dominated Andrew Bogut on offense and defense. Then he got the other Andrew in foul trouble. When the Muffin man came in (whoops, I mean Ruffin), Bigfoot got him in foul trouble, too. All the while Bynum only committed one foul himself, while making whirling moves to the basket with the subtle footwork of an olympic champion ice skater.

    When Kobe and especially Lamar faltered, Bigfoot cleaned up the mess and made the putbacks–or rebounded and gave the team another chance. When other players violated “his space,” Bynum changed many shots, officially blocked 3. If they missed, Bigfoot grabbed 11 defensive rebounds and sent the Lakers back on offense.

    Although Lamar came out of hiding from time to time and made very important rebounds and assists (and made NO three point attempts!!!), he only made 2 of 7 shots-which was slightly better than Derek’s 3 for 13.

    I guess Derek’s mom didn’t fly in for this game.

    Jordan Farmar came to the rescue, with 13, doing way better on three pointers than free throws.

    Kobe got 37 and 7 assists, but last year it would have been a wasted effort.

    This year, this game, there were no opportunities for heroics for either side–the butter was cold and the jello was jiggling. When it was tacos instead of bratwurst, the Milwaukee team made their displeasure felt. But it didn’t matter.

    This year, this game, Bynum put his foot down.

  38. I recorded the game on both FSN and ESPN, then watched it twice, trying to compare the announcers the 2nd time.

    I liked VanGundy, but man Stu and ??? had way more information and inside dope than did ESPN. Not only was it the difference between a fly over at 30,000 feet vs 1,000 feet, but I learned more about basketball from the local telecast. This was not just about the Lakers, but the Bucks also.

  39. 38 – I took a break from Stu and Joel and enjoyed Van Gundy. I might be the minority, but Stu annoys the heck outta me, but I don’t really mind Joel. Chick kept Stu in check.

  40. WOW this is gonna be long, sorry. Let me know if you agree, or disagree

    Man do i love the Lakers. The feeling of my heart getting broken the last 2 years in the playoffs, losing to the PHX Suns made me want to cry. But now with the growth of this team, and already beating the Suns twice this year makes each win OH so much more gratify!! That being said, here is what i think the Lakers could do to improve on an already OUTSTANDING team.

    1. Get Kwame some practice with a HALL OF FAME center, like Bynum is doing. Don’t give up on him yet. I remember 2 years ago, during the playoffs he was playing excellent and a BIG reason why the lakers almost won the series during the Suns. I was expecting him to develop even more Last year and become one of the more dominating Centers in the Western Conference. But he was hurt almost ALL of last year, so basically it was a wash. Then, even though Bynum was working with Kareem, Brown was still the starter at the beginning of the year, but again he got injured, which put another halt on his development. Finally he is better, i would say 80%, and is ready to get some min. with the 2nd unit. I know the guy has so much RAW talent, not as much and Bynum, and he defiantly doesn’t have the smarts of Bynum, but i think with work he could still be a dominant force underneath. If you ever watch him he makes quick moves, REALY quick moves, its some times hard to remember this guy over 7 feet tall with how quick he moves, but like Stu said last night, “Million dollar move, and a nickel finish.” 2 times last night he made a SPECTACULAR move and just blew by the guy that was guarding him, only to lose control of the ball for a turn over. WORK ON THOSE HANDS BUDDY, Also you have to admit he had the steal of the night lol, i love seeing a BIG guy run the fast-break. I know its like the worse possible fast-break situation to be in, case in point, he turned it over on the pass, but its still fun to see it. Remember back in the day when Shaq would run the break lol. He needs to improve his jumping too. I think that with the injury to his ankle he is either afraid to jump, or just physically unable to. There was a play last night, where Luke Walton drove down the middle and then passed it off to Kwame and he slammed it home. Now, even though they called a charge on Luke, which it was, i was happy to seek Kwame actually catch the ball and slam it. It was a little confidence booster, but if u look at the replay, he didn’t even get his hands over the rim. You have to remember though folks, he, Kobe, Bynum, KG, and Lebron James all do have something in common, they all came straight out of HS. so you know he has talent. DONT GIVE UP ON HIM YET!

    2. Start Ariza for Walton. I think that on the court Kobe and Ariza, make more problems for the defense then Kobe and Luke. Kobe is, obviously, the best player in basketball, and i think the offense should run through him every play, not saying that he should be putting up the shot every play, but he is SO good at driving the ball and finding the open man, if there is no open man, he finds a way to make the shot or get fouled, he draws the double team which puts other players open, and he is a treat from anywhere inside, i would say the half court line lol. Now i love Luke but the problem him is he is more the a facilitator. He is looking to get somebody the ball instead of looking to get to the basket. With Kobe already being a facilitator, he needs a slasher, and thats exactly what Ariza is. Last night Kobe got and Off. Rebound and was ready to back down his man. The defense was so worried about him and Bynum, they totally forgot about Ariza and he snuck behind them. Kobe made and excellent behind the back no look pass to Ariza, who had an easy 2. Also if Ariza starts that means look is coming off the bench. I like that because you have another Triangle Veteran with that young second unit. Luke is so basketball smart, and has a great stroke for either a nice 3, a short range jumper, backing his man down, or he give and go. With him, Jordan, and either Sasha or Radmanovic behind the arch for the second unit the defense is totally going to have to change how they play the second unit, and hopefully that will open up holes down low for Kwame to make and easy basket, or expose weaknesses.

    3. GET RONNY MORE MIN. This guy is a serious, SERIOUS threat on defense. He will be the next shot block master if he can keep developing. I remember a few games ago he started, and by the end of the 1st quarter he already had 4 blocks. If he had more min every games i don’t see it out of reach for him to average 4 or 5 blocks per game, which would be best in the league.

    4. The future is FARMAR. Watching this guy play, i believe he could be the next Jason Kidd or Steve Nash. He definitely has the talent, but as the team is right now, and with his youth, he has been watered town to a 3 point threat, which is fine for what the team needs. and i LOVE how much he has developed from last year. Last year it was almost like he was just so excited to be in the NBA and playing for the Lakers, he was just trying not to screw it up. That is the worse way to play, every player screws up, even Kobe, but you have to just let it roll off your shoulder and get back out there. This year he has a new look, and is taking his basketball so serious. Last year when he played he always had a goofy smile on his face, now when you see him he has one of the most serious looks on his face i ever seen, almost like he’s mad that the guy he’s guarding has the ball and he wants to take it away. I LOVE IT.

    5. I love you Odom, but you got to get with the program. Lets see, Im 6’10, can handle the ball great, I’m a threat from 3, could average a double double, or a triple double every night, oh, and I’m left handed. Who am i? No, not a future hall-of-famer, I’m Lamar Odom. Geez, this guy is good, could you Imagine how good the lakers could be if he would just PLAY. The guy can get to the basket EVERY time if he wanted, he has great eyes and can get as many assets as he wants, and HE”S TALL. With him and Bynum under the basket there is NO reason the other team should ever get a rebound. No wonder the Lakers traded Shaq for him. But, no, he is just a great player who puts up average numbers. Its as if he plays, but his heart isn’t in it. Now i know he has gone through some personal problems in his personal life with is family, but i think its time to either comment or jump ship. There has been a few games where he plays and its like. “YES WOW YOUR GREAT!” but then the next game, its just like he’s taking up space. There are times when he’s playing and i forget he is even on the court. There is no reason he shouldn’t be averaging 20 points, 10-15 rebounds, and 5-7 assets every game. The problem is, you can’t trade him, who are you gonna get? We would want a 6’10 left hander who can shoot the 3 and average a double double. THAT COULD BE ODOM.

    Now last nights win over the Bucks was an ugly one, but a win is still a win. But i think the bucks a way underrated. They are probably the best sub .500 team in the league and will be great in the coming years. Redd can get to the basket each and every time he wants, plus he can shoot from pretty much anywhere, he reminds me of Rip Hamilton, Williams is a perfect balance to Redd and needs to be considered by defenses as a scoring threat. Yi, holy cow this guy is gonna be great. He’s only 20, in fact he shares the same birthday and Bynum, and he has a beautiful stroke. He is the real deal, and the future of the Bucks. Every play should go through him until he gets recognized in the league as a guy who needs to be double teamed. At that point it will leave guys like Redd and Williams wide open for and easy basket. Remember it when i say this, the Bucks will be a serious threat in the East in the near future.

    i have so much more to say about every Laker player but i think i touched on the main topics for right now. i will post more later if you guys want KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK LAKERS. I LONG FOR THE DAYS OF LAKER NATION AGAIN.

  41. Your right Jason, Stu annoys the hell out of me. Van gundy is by the far the best commentator. Probably the best the past 10 years. Of course there is Bill walton with “the team who scores more than the other team in the end of game wins”.

  42. The main things I remember from the game are:

    Kobe looking like he was about to pass out but still getting the Lakers started when they were faltering in quarter 1, and taking over in quarter 4 to keep the Bucks at bay.

    Bynum dominating offensively and defensively down low, and all the missed shot that came down between a lot of tall people only to be snatched out of the sky by the big and strong hands of Andrew Bynum which rose above all others.

  43. Are big Bill’s teeth bigger? Or maybe he had them cleaned? I swear I need sunglasses when his dopey mug is shown full-on to the camera. I like Stu but Van Gundy is great. Personally if I were Van Gundy and I think the taco chant is annoying, I don’t give it any more recognition. yeah the fans wanted tacos, but they’ll take a win. And please, the NBA is whored out for every product under the sun and tacos are a problem. JVG was really funny when Breen (who really is criminally boring) made the point early that Kobe was sick and that he might be struggling , at which point he made a few threes in a row. JVG played up the absurdity of the situation. He has a wonderfully dry sense of humor, and I thought he made a good point at one point about Kobe’s D when Breen said that Kobe “can be” a great defender. I was yelling at the TV, the guy’s been Alll-Defensive team several (I don’t know how many) times…he IS a great defender. Jeff said that Kobe’s offense was excellent…anyway. Yeah, I gotta tell ya, to me, Joel Meyers is terribly dull also. I thought Paul Sunderland got into it a bit more and wish they’d have kept him on. Oh well.

  44. The Guy Formerly Known As Lamar Odom January 12, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Did anyone notice how Critt almost gave the game away when he came in? he was trying too hard to do too many things, I guess he was trying to impress.

    And did anyone notice how Kwame blew two easy buckets??? And then when it looked like he would redeem himself by stealing the ball and dribbling like a madman upcourt he managed to make an awful pass and turn it over??? Trade the fool!