From Janis Carr, OC Register: Phil Jackson didn’t have to caution his players about overlooking the Milwaukee Bucks. They understood the pratfalls of playing the lowly Bucks, a sub-.500 team that was missing two key players four days before Christmas. The worry was that Tuesday’s game fell between the end of a six-game trip and the highly anticipated Christmas Day game against Miami and could easily be dismissed. “It was mentioned (by the players who said) ‘don’t mess around and let this game get away from us,’ ” Jackson said. Someone wasn’t listening. The Bucks took advantage of a distracted Lakers team for a 98-79 victory at Staples Center, their first victory against the two-time defending NBA champions since 2007.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: With heads hung low, the Lakers walked toward the entrance tunnel amid a shower of boos reigning from the select few that still remained at Staples Center. Most of them had already left well before the Lakers’ 98-79 loss Tuesday to the Milwaukee Bucks became official, but the vocal disapproval capped off a day that featured very little going right for the Lakers (21-8). Some of the signs pointed back to as early as their morning shootaround. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson revealed a fender bender accident caused Kobe Bryant to arrive a half-hour late to the shootaround. Lamar Odom’s flu-like symptoms prompted Jackson to tell him to miss the morning session completely. And the challenges that come from playing its first game after a seven-game trip became too overwhelming.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: This is how you lose home-court advantage. When spring rolls around and the Lakers are opening a playoff series in Dallas or San Antonio or Boston, we’ll look back on nights like this and rue. Oh, will we ever rue! Earning home court in the playoffs requires you to pick off 90% of the low-hanging fruit on your schedule and then do a little better than hold your own in head-to-head matchups with the other elites. And fruit doesn’t come any lower-hanging than the Milwaukee Bucks in their current state. No Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette or Drew Gooden. Travel-weary from having played last night in Portland. To say nothing of being, you know, just not very good, as conspicuously demonstrated by the 10-16 record they brought with them to this contest.
From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: The Bucks have one of the worst offenses in the league with Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden in the lineup. All three were unable to suit up. While I did present a theory in November about the correlation between stagnant offense and Maggette/Gooden, it still stood to reason the shorthanded state would equal struggles scoring for Milwaukee. Reason fell to the wayside. Milwaukee shot 61 percent from the field in the first quarter (25 points), with seven assisted field goals, indicative of the unusual ease with which they operated all night. Earl Boykins may be a talented scorer, but this was his first 20+ game — off the bench, no less — in over a year. The timing of this explosion was no coincidence. Without question, there were also few miracle shots (particularly for the lil’ fella), prayers drained as the clock expired or a blocked shot bounced back into a visitor’s hands. But these shots should have been the kind pushing their deficit to 12, not padding a double digit lead.
From Jeremy Schmidt, Bucksketball: This is a team that refuses to be predictable. One night after a discouraging effort in Portland, Milwaukee marched into Los Angeles and bullied around the Lakers like they were the Clippers. And, in theme with the absurd premise of the Bucks beating the Lakers on the road, the lead bully was 5-foot-5, 135 pounds. Earl Boykins led Milwaukee with 22 points in their 98-79 win over the Lakers, but this was done by an ensemble cast, not a man alone. Milwaukee harkened back to the brighter days of last season, moving the ball constantly (19 assists on 37 makes), hitting 3-point shots (8-14 3FG) and getting contributions from all over (four players between 15 and 22 points). And while playing as well as they had all season offensively, Milwaukee continuously stifled the vaunted Lakers offense, keeping them from the customary runs during which they pull away from opponents.
From Chris Tomasson, NBA Fanhouse: Lakers coach Phil Jackson said before the game that his players had been warned not to look past struggling Milwaukee on Tuesday night toward the marquee Christmas Day affair against Miami. Turns out, not everybody was listening. Forward Ron Artest even admitted it. “I didn’t hear a warning,” Artest said after his team’s surprising 98-79 loss to the Bucks at the Staples Center. “Maybe they said that.” According to Jackson, the players said it themselves after the morning shootaround. They did it on their own in the huddle at the walkthrough this morning,” Jackson said before Tuesday’s game. “It was mentioned, ‘Don’t mess around and let this game get away from you, and then ruin what we’re trying to do on Christmas.”’