Like certain prize-winning dogs, the Lakers came out on top, but that doesn't necessarily make the triumphant pretty to look at.
The breakdown is below the jump.
THE GOODHarry How/Getty Images
This is what everyone likes to see, Andrew!
-Andrew Bynum has resided lately under one seriously high-powered microscope, whether you're talking his rebounding, assertiveness in the paint (or lack thereof), ability to ever prosper alongside Pau Gasol, or all the above. In the meantime, the Lakers have been criticized for slow starts. While questions involving El Spaniard are obviously tabled for the time being, young Drew took it upon himself to address everything else in one fell sweep. Little time passed before it was apparent a dominant night was in the works. Baby jumpers falling. A rebound earned after stretching high and aggressively to track down Derek Fisher's missed trey (which, by definition, makes the ensuing dunk equally earned). A little more than halfway through the quarter, Bynum already had eight points on 4-6 shooting, three boards (impressively, all were on the offensive boards) and a block. And while I think Milwaukee's impatient abandonment of inside scores would have happened under any circumstances, Bynum bothering shots in the lane and allowing Andrew Bogut (pegged as key in my preview) little action probably sped up the inevitable.
As Phil Jackson described his 17 point/career-high 18 rebound effort, "big night for him all the way around."
-Shannon Brown is nothing if not a crowd fave, and if any hint's needed for the roots of that status, look no further than LetShannondunk.com. Dude's got redunkulous hops and the crowd loves them "Springy Shannon." But tonight, Brown found several ways to keep the Staples patrons lathered up, and only once was a jam involved. 19 points off the bench on 8-12 shooting to lead all scorers, with a few buckets canned via mid-range pull up jumpers in transition. Back-to-back blocks of Luke Ridnour and Brandon Jennings, the first coming after Shannon was glued so tightly to the Oregon product while shadowing him to the rim I actually said to myself, "Luke can't possibly not realize he's getting swatted." Brown also hounded Brandon Jennings on several possessions, rarely allowing the local product to find a comfort zone.
The highlight, however, was a half court shot to beat the third quarter buzzer, among Shannon's few SportsCenter-guaranteed moments that didn't feature a throwdown. We joked in press row about starting a site called LetShannonshoot.com.Harry How/Getty Images
These two seemed to be on each other's nerves.
-Brown had some nice company off the pine in Jordan Farmar, who chipped in 17 points and was perfect during six tries at the line. He also managed to annoy Jennings while matched against the rook, and I noticed quite a bit of jawing between them during the fourth quarter. After Jordan converted a broken possession (created off a Jennings turnover to boot) into a corner three-ball, he seemed to relish Milwaukee calling timeout and shot a few icy glares in the direction of the Bucks' bench. When play resumed, Jennings was on that pine and never returned.
-Lamar Odom has steadfastly maintained --even in the face of criticism-- he can be a factor without putting points on the board or taking tons of shots. I've always agreed with the former sentiment, but do think it's important he shoot enough to keep defenses honest. Along those lines, I rarely consider four attempts enough for LO or the Lakers. Then again, it's not often Odom shoots just four times, but instead pulls down seventeen rebounds (the ninth consecutive game snatching double figures) and dishes out nine assists. Should those standards be maintained, I suppose Lamar can hoist as often or little as he wants.
-Milwaukee shot 19 percent in the first quarter en route to eight points. (Seriously. Eight. Not a typo). They finished the first half with just 28. A paltry 18 came over the third frame's course and they never found any rhythm until garbage time. The Lakers also out-rebounded the Bucks 61-43 and blocked seven of their shots. As far as defense goes, that'll do, pig. That'll do.
-As mentioned in the videos above and below, Kobe's finger remains an issue. There was also Ron Artest asking out of the game after a collision with Michael Redd, but fingers crossed, it'll just end up a case of cautiousness and nothing more.