Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Lakers 104, Bucks 88
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- Until the Lakers lose a game, the fans in Los Angeles will be pleased as punch going along with coach Mike D'Antoni's "the season starts Sunday" proclamation.
While the Lakers are 2-0 since D'Antoni made the statement, maybe the more apt declaration would have been: The season starts when Dwight Howard dominates.
Howard did just that Tuesday, abusing the Milwaukee Bucks on both ends of the floor, and finishing with 31 points on 14-for-18 shooting, 16 rebounds and four blocks.
How it happened: L.A. let an early 12-point lead disappear but ended up getting the victory going away by outscoring Milwaukee 25-15 in the fourth quarter.
What it means: Despite all the problems the Lakers have had this season, they still have plenty of life left in them. For the second straight game, they played with a sense of urgency -- particularly on the defensive end, where they held the Bucks to just 88 points and 35.8 percent shooting as a team -- and put forth the proper effort it takes to win an NBA game.
Hits: This "Kobe Bryant guarding the opposition's best ball handler" thing seems to be working. Bryant held Brandon Jennings to just 12 points on 4-for-14 shooting while pouring in 31 points on 12-for-19 shooting on the other end to go with six assists. He exited the game to a standing ovation with the Lakers up by 19 with 3:07 remaining.
Antawn Jamison looks to be fully back into the swing of things. He scored in double digits for the third straight game, finishing with 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Misses: "Earlsanity" appears to have come to an end. Or it has certainly paused, at least. Earl Clark finished with just six points on 3-for-7 shooting, nine rebounds and four assists, and he'll be returning to a bench role whenever Pau Gasol is back from his concussion.
L.A. was outrebounded 54-46, including 21 offensive boards for the Bucks.
Jodie Meeks sat out the entire game until mop-up duty in the final minutes of the fourth quarter once again.
Stat of the night: One game after assisting on 32 of 40 baskets against Cleveland, the Lakers kept sharing the ball against Milwaukee, racking up 30 dimes on 42 made field goals.
What's next: It might not have all the glitz and glamour we thought it would before the season began, considering Miami is just 4-6 in its past 10 games and the Lakers are still well below .500, but you know everybody in the league will be tuning in to see Bryant & Co. against LeBron James and his crew Thursday. If the Lakers can manage a win, they'll head out on their three-game road trip through Toronto, Chicago and Memphis on a three-game winning streak.