The last time these two teams hooked up it ended with a Kobe Bryant buzzer-beater in overtime to give the Lakers a 107-106 victory. Bryant led all scorers that night with 39 points in the victory. However, Los Angeles enters tonight’s game under different circumstances than before. Losers of two straight for the first time since November, the Lakers are looking to avoid losing three consecutive games for the first time since acquiring forward Pau Gasol back in February of 2008. The Bucks enter tonight’s game on a three game winning streak and are starting their longest road game of the season in Staples Center tonight.
- Offensive Movement – It seems that without Gasol in the lineup the Lakers are settling for far too many outside jump shots, and are spending way too much time watching Kobe go one on one. With or without Gasol, the Lakers need to move the ball around and stop settling for jump shots. If they get into the same habits they had in the previous two games between the Blazers and Clippers, the Lakers may be looking at their third straight loss and some serious questions.
- Share the Load – In the loss to Portland on Friday night Bryant took an astonishing 37 shot attempts. This is about fifteen too many. The Lakers are not going to win or have the offensive fluidity they are accustomed to if Bryant is throwing up nearly forty shots. The impact Gasol has on their offense has never been more apparent, and they must find a way to play a smooth offensive game without him. A balanced, well-rounded attack from a variety of players is the best way to approach this concept, and the Lakers will need more than just one person to step up tonight.
- Defensive Pressure – While the question with the Lakers is usually the defense and never the offense, that is not the case for this particular squad. They are playing above-average defense, albeit the two previous losses did not show that, and the return of Artest to the rotation has been very helpful. While the offense is apparently stuck in neutral they must boost their defensive intensity throughout the entire game.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Staples Center, Los Angeles
TV: FS West
Radio: 710 ESPN