The Lakers had just snapped their losing streak of six games last Sunday after demolishing the Cleveland Cavaliers. What’s more, Dwight Howard came back and felt no pain in his right shoulder. So news may be getting better in Lakerland, after all. While Pau Gasol is still ruled out, the Lakers saw the surprising emergence of Earl Clark.
The Lakers faced the Milwaukee Bucks, who were 3-1 coming into this game ever since they fired Scott Skiles. The Bucks weren’t an elite team but Cleveland Cavaliers they were not. Did the Lakers start a winning streak? Let’s check out the recap.
Kobe tried to set the tone early by making it look like he was going to shoot but instead jump passed it to Dwight Howard for alley-oops.
Twice! RT @drewgarrisonsbn: Absolutely shocked Kobe passed there.
— Ben Rosales (@brosales12) January 16, 2013
And then Metta World Peace made two early threes as the Lakers got off to a 14-4 start in less than three minutes. Steve Nash even got a steal in that stretch. Vintage Lakers!
The Lakers had their game going on both sides for a little bit. They scored 26 points in the first eight minutes.
Then Monta Ellis went on a personal 7-0 run (while taking advantage of most of the Laker starters sitting down) that cut the lead down to 26-22. Mike Dunleavy would cut the lead down to two with a three-pointer. So much for that Laker fast start.
Ellis would miss a perimeter jumper at the buzzer and the Lakers held on to a 29-27 lead after the first quarter.
Beno Udrih (you may remember him as a two-time NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs) got the Bucks started in the right direction. A Dwight Howard goaltend on John Henson gave the Bucks a 33-31 lead.
Nobody gets called for goaltending more than Dwight Howard.
— Duwop. (@asialacap) January 16, 2013
Antawn Jamison stayed hot from three, though. He made his first three three-pointers (he went 4-5 from behind the arc against Cleveland) and gave the Lakers a bit of a cushion.
But the Bucks were getting all the boards as, besides Dwight, no one from the Lakers were crashing the glass. The Lakers and Bucks were trading baskets for a while but L.A. play did not great perimeter defense as Marquis Daniels and Dunleavy made three-pointers.
Howard was actually pretty dominant in the first half. His basket that put the Lakers up, 49-46, gave him his 15th and 16th points. At the time, he also had six rebounds and three blocks. This is the Dwight Howard that Lakers Nation wished they would see on a consistent basis.
Kobe Bryant made three straight shots and helped expand the Laker lead. While the Bucks continued to beat the Lakers on the glass, the Lakers still led at the end of the half, 57-50. Also of note? All but two Laker field goals were assisted. Ball movement! Amazing!
The Lakers kept the ball movement going in the second half. Nash got his 10th assist after a Howard lay-up. Even though Brandon Jennings made a four-point play, Kobe countered with a three and Earl Clark had a nice pass on the break to Howard.
2-on-1 break and the Lakers score!!! Thanks to unselfish, athletic Earl Clark. Seriously love this kid
— Laker Magic (@Laker_Magic) January 16, 2013
The game became sloppy as the third quarter went on. The Lakers were lucky that Monta Ellis kept missing foul shots; he was 3-9 at that point. While the Lakers did play better defense, a quiet 6-0 Bucks run cut the lead down a bit.
It became an overall 11-2 run by the Bucks after a Luc Richard Mbah A Moute lay-up. It cut the Laker lead down to 69-67. It wasn’t really an entertaining third quarter to watch. It was so ugly that Kobe Bryant did something uncharacteristic.
Whoa. Kobe missed a layup?!
— Rina Dakanay (@ballerrina) January 16, 2013
The Bucks played much better defense as the third quarter and both offenses stalled. The Laker offense that was going to smoothly in the first two quarters (or whenever Steve Nash was in) disappeared as they decided to go with isolation plays (hello, Kobe!). Still, Kobe was able to get a jumper in before the third quarter buzzer. The Lakers hung on to a 79-73 lead at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter started out very well with Metta World Peace making a bailout corner shot and Chris Duhon making a three. Dwight Howard then made back-to-back dunks to put the Lakers up 13 points.
Good stretch by Los Lakers right now.
— Jaime-Z (@HiMay3000) January 16, 2013
Back 2 back dunks from @dwighthoward he is doing it big tonight!!
— Kira Hooper (@k2hoop) January 16, 2013
Kobe then made a three-pointer and then made a long two to put the Lakers up 17 with less than six minutes to go. That long shot was pretty much the ballgame.
— Miss Heartless (@Lady_Killuh) January 16, 2013
Steve Nash was dishing, Dwight Howard was a monster inside, and Kobe Bryant was making his jumpers after being a facilitator early. While the Lakers were outrebounded, they were playing better defense in stretches. They also took much better care of the ball (eight turnovers).
The Lakers went on to spank the Bucks, 104-88.
POINTS: Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant, 31.
REBOUNDS: Dwight Howard, 16.
ASSISTS: Steve Nash, 11.
BLOCKS: Dwight Howard, 4.
STEALS: Steve Nash, 2.