Preview & Chat: The Milwaukee Bucks

Kurt —  January 10, 2010

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Records: Lakers 28-8 (1st in West) Bucks 15-18(8th in East)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108.4 (11th in league), Bucks 102.7 (25th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 101.5 (3rd in league) Bucks 103.2 (5th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Blazers: Brandon Jennings, Michael Redd, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut

Lakers Tonight: A couple teams have now banned gambling card games from their team plans and facilities. Don’t look for the Lakers to be one of them.

“I think it’s just a PR thing, personally,” Jackson said before the Lakers faced the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. “I mean, what are these guys going to do when they get back to the hotel, back to their homes? They’re going to gamble.

“Maybe the plane would be a better spot for them to do it because they’re monitored and they’re in the company of the guys. It hasn’t been a problem. We have about four or five guys on our team who play and they seem to have a wonderful time.

“It’s really a great release for them, a pastime.”

Like many things, it’s a matter of maturity. It’s possible to have fun card games — even at stakes you and I would consider enormous — and have it be about fun and camaraderie. But if people are immature, get in for money they can’t or won’t pay, or are just generally irresponsible, then it can be a problem. And it’s a whole different level to bring guns into the picture. Somehow, with strong team leaders like the Lakers (or Celtics or other teams have) you would never see this.

Blogs and Links: Check out Bucksketball.

Also, if you need a laugh today, this is the video to watch.

Keys to game: Remember when the Lakers played the Bucks in Wisconsin it took a few missed free throws from the Bucks, a questionable call and a Kobe game-tying buzzer beater to send the thing to overtime. While that was there and the Lakers were on the second night of a back-to-back, this is not a team that rolls over.

They play good defense, and that starts with creating turnovers — 17.4% of opponent possessions end in a turnover, fourth best rate in the league. Those turnovers fuel easy fast break points, so rule one: Take care of the ball.

The Lakers got killed last time with Redd set up in a wing screen and roll because the Bucks bigs can pop for the midrange or roll to the hoop. Thanks to the Lakers Web site, here is what it looks like:

Also, Bynum needs to be back to his old self and outplay Bynum tonight for the Lakers to stand a chance.

Where you can watch: 6:30 p.m. start on Fox Sports here in Los Angeles, and of course ESPN 710 radio. I’m in Staples so expect a lot of updates.