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Milwaukee drops fifth in a row

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant did a defensive number on fellow
All-Star guard Michael Redd in between scoring 30 points.

Bryant's defense limited Redd to six points and the Los Angeles
Lakers held off the Milwaukee Bucks in the final minute for a
100-96 victory Tuesday night.

"I just tried to chase him and stay focused on him," Bryant
said. "We could have played much better defense at the end and not
made it a free throw shooting contest."

Lamar Odom added 17 points and Chris Mihm 12 for Los Angeles.

Desmond Mason scored 26 points off the bench and reserve Mike
James added 18 points and 11 assists for the Bucks, who lost their
fifth in a row overall and seventh straight against the Lakers
since November 2001.

"It's got to end," Redd said. "We play well in each game on
the road. We've just got to finish the games off."

Milwaukee played the Lakers close throughout and led 79-76 early
in the fourth quarter. Caron Butler's basket put the Lakers ahead
80-79 before Marcus Fizer's free throw tied it for the last time at
80.

Butler stole the ball from Redd and dunked on a fastbreak,
Bryant scored, then Butler added a three-point play for a 91-84
lead with 4:34 remaining. Redd scored four points in a row to pull
the Bucks within five points with 2 minutes left. Butler finished
with 16 points.

"What I really like about this game is we had some defensive
stops in the fourth quarter and shook some balls loose where we
didn't have to work so hard to go through their defense," Lakers
coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "That's the way you do it, you close
it up with stops."

Bryant committed a turnover with 1½ minutes left, losing the
ball out of bounds. Joe Smith hit a jumper to cut the Lakers' lead
to 95-92 before Odom was called for an offensive foul with barely a
minute to play.

Smith's jumper bounced off the rim, Mason grabbed the rebound
but fouled Bryant, who made both free throws for a 97-92 lead.
Smith connected from short-range to draw the Bucks within three
before Bryant hit two more free throws for a 99-94 lead. Bryant was
8-of-10 from the line.

"I won't make any excuses at all. If I'm out there, I've got to
play," Redd said. "They did a tremendous job of collapsing and
throwing an extra man on me. They really had a defensive plan, so
give them credit."

Redd has had two games with 30-plus points in the last 10 days,
but was 1-of-8 from the floor with Bryant dogging him.

"Michael's been a little bit under the weather, so obviously he
wasn't attacking it like he's been doing," Mason said. "He's a
little bit shaky and he's been coughing up, but they just clogged
it in on him. Kobe trailed all the screens and they jumped out and
tried to disrupt his rhythm."

Vlade Divac played his first game since rejoining the Lakers as
a free agent during the summer. He started the second quarter,
drawing rousing cheers as he walked on the court. He had missed the
first 11 games because of a herniated disk in his lower back. He
was scoreless in five minutes.

"My back is fine," Divac said. "Now I just have to work on my
conditioning and feel for the game. I would like to play more, but
it's going to go step by step."

The Bucks were better on the boards, 47-35, helped by former
UCLA star Dan Gadzuric's 11 rebounds and 10 by Keith Van Horn.

Milwaukee's largest lead of the third quarter was five points,
achieved through an 8-0 run. The Lakers chipped away and regained
the lead for the first time in the period on Odom's basket with
1:20 remaining. But James hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to leave
the Bucks trailing 74-73.

The Bucks outscored the Lakers 33-20 in the second quarter to
take a 52-47 lead into halftime. Milwaukee ran off 12 unanswered
points early in the second, then Mason scored eight of the team's
final 10 points of the period.

Game notes
Former Laker Karl Malone, sitting out this season after
arthroscopic knee surgery in June, was a courtside spectator in a
brown felt western hat and leather western boots. He was
accompanied by his son Karl Jr. Bryant said he still talks to
Malone every day, but doesn't know whether Malone is leaning toward
playing next season. ... The Lakers placed F Brian Grant (right
knee tendinitis) and G Sasha Vujacic (sprained right ankle) on the
injured list. They activated F Jumaine Jones, who was scoreless in
seven minutes. ... Comic Maya Rudolph, who parodied Bryant's wife
Vanessa in a "Saturday Night Live" sketch last season, sat near
the Lakers bench.

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