The Lakers came into tonight’s game winners of five straight road games, playing relatively well, but not great. Milwaukee came into tonight’s game missing three key players (Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden) and were coming off of a bad loss to Portland. With the Miami game looming, the only thing the Lakers didn’t want to do was to lay an egg to a short handed, lesser opponent. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they did, laying a huge egg back at Staples in a 98-79 awful loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Lakers showed some signs of offensive execution early, especially with Lamar Odom getting whatever he wanted against Ersan Ilyasova in the first six minutes of the first quarter. However, the Lakers showed glimpses of some of their worst collective defensive execution. Keyon Dooling was able to get into the paint and create for others; Ilyasova hit a couple mid-range jumpers and got some easy buckets around the rim; and Andrew Bogut gave Pau Gasol all that he could handle. With Milwaukee able to score at a much higher rate than what they normally do, they were able to set their defense, one of the best defenses in the league, which gave the Lakers problems. Milwaukee challenged shots around the rim (five missed Lakers layups in the last three minutes of the first quarter) and turned the Lakers over — and scoring off of every Lakers first half turnover.
In the second quarter, the Lakers’ second unit got going, moved the ball well and took a lead after a Shannon Brown three, Matt Barnes hit a couple shots and a short Andrew Bynum jump hook. However, they were only able to extend that lead to three points before the starting unit was brought back in, and much of the same for the first quarter ensued. Bogut and Ilyasova continued to get easy looks while the Lakers continued to miss easy ones around the rim and turn the ball over. Although nothing screamed 19-point blow out in the first half, there weren’t any signs suggesting that the Lakers were going to figure out how to over come their four-point halftime deficit.
In the second half, things got worse. The offense stalled for several possessions at a time. Instead of moving the ball like they did for the first few minutes of the game and pounding the ball inside, they moved to a more individualistic approach, going into isolations and standing around the perimeter watching. Ball movement was non-existent as the Lakers went on a 9:41 stretch without an assisted basket. As the lead continued to grow, the Lakers shot selection got worse. The Lakers ended up shooting two-for-13 from behind the arch, helping to add to the percentage of Lakers possessions that ended with an isolation or a spot-up jumper — nearly 30 percent.
Milwaukee shot eight-for-14 from behind the arch, with little man Earl Boykins shooting four-for-five from long range with 22 points. At the end of the day, the Lakers flat out didn’t play well. Milwaukee executed a great game plan and the Lakers did the opposite. Frustrations eventually mounted to a Kobe Bryant ejection with about two minutes left to play.
I don’t think we need to remind you guys, but the Lakers play next on Christmas against the Miami Heat at 2:30 PST on ABC. We’ll have more on this matchup as the game approaches.