- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 118-107 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday...
1. Before you start calling Shannon Brown the NBA's Most Improved Player or the Sixth Man of the Year, here's another nickname that fits and he doesn't need a media vote at the end of the year to earn it.
How about Mr. Fourth Quarter?
Everybody knows how supremely clutch Kobe Bryant is at the end of ball games, but if Bryant is Mariano Rivera, then Brown is one heck of a set-up man.
Brown scored a season-high 21 points in just 22 minutes of playing time, going 7-for-9 from the field, 4-for-5 on 3-pointers and 3-for-3 from the foul line. He also added three rebounds and a steal.
Sixteen of those points came in the final stanza, a time of the game that Brown's becoming awful comfortable with.
On opening night Brown had 14 points and three steals in the fourth quarter as the Lakers bounced back from a five-point hole to trounce the Rockets. He scored 10 in the fourth in the Lakers' last game against the Phoenix Suns and nine in the fourth quarter of their game before that against the Denver Nuggets.
All of that production has carved out a niche for Brown to stay on the court when the game matters most after coming into the year fourth on the Lakers depth chart at guard behind Bryant, Derek Fisher and Steve Blake.
"Coach [Phil Jackson] has a rotation that he goes with ... but when I'm hot he leaves me in there and I'm thankful and I just try to do what I do to reward him for [that faith in me]," Brown said.
Jackson said he did not want to "hex" Brown's fast start by saying whether he saw it coming or not, but was effusive in his praise for the fifth-year guard.
"He had a great contribution tonight, he was terrific," Jackson said.
Will the coach have to reconsider his rotation to find consistent crunch-time minutes for Brown?
"I hope it continues," Jackson said. "I hope so. It's terrific input."
Despite tying his career high with four 3s, Brown's most exciting play came on the break when he turned a long rebound into an and-one opportunity to put the Lakers up by seven late in the third quarter. He was so excited that it looked like he started shaking imaginary maracas.
"I got hit in the eye so when I finished it I had to make sure I [saw] it go in and when it went in I did whatever that was -- I was wondering myself -- but it felt good though," Brown said.
Brown said after that Rockets win that he doesn't want to be known as just a dunker anymore and Bryant doesn't want the guy who is now 20-for-39 from 3 on the season (53.8 percent) to be known as just a shooter, either.
"He shot the ball extremely well tonight and I'm sure that's what everybody will pay attention to, but defensively he did a great job too -- staying with guys, chasing guys off of screens, helping when he needed to help -- so I was more pleased with that," Bryant said.
Brown acknowledged where his maraca moments come from.
"We need to get stops, we need to get easy looks on the other end," Brown said. "We need to get out, run and get stuff in transition but it starts with defense, though."
2. A lot went right for the Lakers on Tuesday, but it was a quiet night for Ron Artest.
Maybe a little too quiet.
Artest played a season-low 18 minutes and finished with modest totals of seven points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
His night seemed strange from the start when Matt Barnes subbed in for him just five minutes and twenty seconds into the first quarter.
"He asked out of the game," Jackson said. Barnes played the next four minutes and thirty seconds before Ron checked back in.
"He just wasn't feeling right and perfect tonight," Jackson explained.
Artest did not shed much light on the situation.
"I'll be OK, it's a part of the season," he said.
When asked if it was a muscular problem or an illness, Artest evaded the question again.
"It's just a part of the season. I'll be OK though."
Artest did not play at all in the fourth quarter but assured reporters that he was available to go back in the game had Jackson called his number.
"The main thing is that we won and I'll be back tomorrow," Artest said.
The Lakers play the Detroit Pistons at The Palace at Auburn Hills on Wednesday.
3. The Lakers let up an average of 119.5 points per game during their two-game slide against Denver and Phoenix.
Not surprisingly, Jackson was down on the team's D at shootaround, calling the team "concerned" about their recent inability to protect the basket.
"It's just been our defensive energy," Jackson said. "We're not taking charges like we should, we're not plugging the lane like we should, we have missed assignments various times when we're out there where guys aren't on the same page. Those are things that collectively they have to get together on.
"We just know that we're not as alert as we have in the past defensively -- active, hands, stealing the ball, getting those easy baskets."
So what won the game for L.A. on a night when the Lakers gave up 107 points? Their third-quarter defense.
The Lakers held the Bucks to 22 points on 6-for-16 shooting (37.5 percent) in the pivotal period and forced them into six turnovers that resulted in seven easy points in transition.
"That's what wins games, to be able to apply defensive pressure and at some point in the game be able to hold a team down and go on a run and be able to break the game open," Bryant said.
4. Bryant picked up his second technical foul of the season in the third quarter. He's been among the league-leaders in that categories the last handful of seasons, but has controlled himself rather well considering the rule change this season. Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony are tied for the most T's in the league this year with five apiece.
5. Here's a connection between the two teams you probably didn't know about: Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen was a longtime assistant in Milwaukee and coached the Bucks to a 23-42 record in 1991-92 when he filled in as interim head coach.
Before the game, a Milwaukee reporter who used to cover Hamblen asked Phil: "Through the years, what has Frank Hamblen meant to your staff?"
Phil's response, after pausing for dramatic effect?
He of course followed up the joke with a slew of compliments.
"Frank’s got a raw sense of humor that’s always good for the morning," Jackson said. "We’ll get up and have breakfast together as a staff. He really is kind of the architect on the bench and shows the guys how to do their job … Frank I think is in the triple figures as a coach. I think he’s just reaching 99 or 100 years as a coach.
"But with his longevity he’s got a list of leads or desperation plays people run that he’s got tacked to the back of his pocket. He’s got all the credibility to go to a referee and ask him what’s going on out there if I don’t have the need or the desire to walk over and develop a relationship with those guys. He’s the one that will normally do that. And he’s always capable of stepping in and doing the job."
6. Two random observations about Lamar Odom who finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 36 minutes on that bruised right foot of his:
A) He's switched up the model of sneakers he wears, going from the Nike Hyperdunk to the Nike Hyperfuse because he said the latter feels softer against his banged up foot.
B) He got in an intense yet impromptu push-up and sit-up workout in the locker room before the game. As Odom walked out of the locker room and out to the floor, he flexed and jokingly said, "Think they'll let me check these guns on the plane tonight?"
7. If this truly is Jackson's "last stand," will he miss Milwaukee? If he does walk away, this will be his last trip to Cream City as a head coach unless the Lakers end up playing the Bucks in the Finals. The city has special significance to his career as the place where his 1995-96 Chicago Bulls won their record-setting 70th game.
When asked he reflected on that historic win or thought an extra about his time in Milwaukee he said, "No, well, some of those German restaurants I used to go to, I had some thoughts about that."
Jackson said he lived about 45 miles away from Milwaukee when he coached the Bulls and would make the occasional visit.
"It was an easy way to get away," Jackson said.
8. Here are details on Theo Ratliff's surgery, Andrew Bynum's return date and the Lakers search committee to find a new backup center. One thing I know: Derrick Caracter isn't going to be the guy. The rookie got a DNP against the Bucks while Gasol played 40-plus minutes for the third straight game. One thing I think: Finding a young, fresh body in the D-League would be their best bet. One name I'll throw out there just for fun: Why not see what Chris Mihm is up to these days? He knows the players, knows the coaches, knows the system and it's not like he's shrunk at all. If nothing else, he's a legit 7-footer.
9. Quote of the night: "They're the No. 1 offensive team, we're the No. 1 defensive; I think they won that battle." -- Bucks center Andrew Bogut summing up the night's events.
10. Stats of the night: A game after allowing the Phoenix Suns to scorch the nets to the tune of 22-for-40 from downtown the Lakers shot 10-for-16 on 3-pointers (62.5 percent) and held the Bucks to 3-for-14 from 3 in the second half after Milwaukee opened the game up 6-for-10 from the outside ... Milwaukee came into Tuesday holding their last five opponents to 91 points or fewer and the Lakers obliterated that number by scoring 118 ... Gasol (18 points, 10 rebounds) registered his ninth double-double in 11 games this season.
Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 118-107 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday...1. Before you start calling Shannon Brown the NBA's Most Improved Player or the Sixth Man of the Year, here's another nickname that fits and he doesn't need a media vote at the end of the year to earn it.