Five things to take from Lakers' 100-89 loss to Milwaukee Bucks
1. The Lakers' 100-89 loss Saturday to the Milwaukee Bucks revealed their defensive inconsistency. In what appeared to be a severe mismatch, the Bucks still kept pace with the Lakers by constantly pushing the ball in transition even after made baskets. The Lakers couldn't keep up, as Milwaukee scored 15 fastbreak points. They hardly looked settled as the Bucks shot 40 of 80 from the field, thanks to delayed perimeter rotations and weakside help on double teams. And any time the Lakers appeared to make a comeback, the Lakers allowed either Mike Dunleavy (15 points on six-for-eight shooting) to hit perimeter shots or Drew Gooden (23 points on nine-for-15 shooting) to make mid-range jumpers and drive the lane without much resistance.
This remains most troubling because the Lakers usually have been reliable on defense. But they've shown they lack enough discipline to prevent quick ball movement from throwing their rotations out of whack.
2. The Lakers' initially efficient strong offense quickly became a mess. The Lakers had the most favorable circumstances handed to them. The Bucks were coming off a loss the previous night at Chicago. Center Andrew Bogut is sidelined because of a broken left ankle. Guard Stephen Jackson was serving a one-game suspension for verbally abusing an official against the Bulls.
Even with the Lakers shooting only 39% of from the field in the first quarter, they ran their offense with efficiency. Kobe Bryant immediately set up Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the low post. Bynum remained balanced in the lane. When Gasol received touches in the high post, he immediately drove to the basket. And all that movement allowed Bryant to move off the ball and score with ease. Both Gasol and Bynum missed bunnies, but the purposeful execution proved beneficial.
That is, until the Bucks made adjustments. They forced 14 turnovers. Gasol and Bynum combined for only 27 points on 12-for-28 shooting. And the Lakers hardly had enough players dribbling effectively in penetration to offset Milwaukee's aggressiveness.
Meanwhile, it's clear that Goudelock will remain the backup point guard until Steve Blake returns from his rib injury. His 13 points on five-for-10 shooting and his three-for-five clip from three-point range signals that the Lakers actually have a dependable outside shooter. Goudelock also looks more comfortable setting up teammates than rookie Darius Morris did when he was in the backup role.
4. The Lakers bench outside Goudelock looked horrible. Metta World Peace can't hit a shot. Troy Murphy can't pass or dribble effectively through double teams. Josh McRoberts broke a basic rule by spiking a basketball. And Morris, Devin Ebanks and Jason Kapono provided only token minutes.
The turning point in the game actually came when Lakers Coach Mike Brown played the reserves alongside Gasol to open the second quarter. Milwaukee's 7-0 run to start the quarter reflected Gasol's poor shooting touch and the unit's inability to stay organized. Sadly, this has become the norm.
5. The Lakers challenges only get tougher. The Lakers dropped their road record to 1-7. They failed to score at least 100 points for the 13th consecutive game. Think that sounds bad? Well, it's likely going to get worse. The Lakers hardly look ready for their six-game trip starting Feb. 3.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant looks to attack against the defense of Bucks guard Carlos Delfino in the first half Saturday night in Milwaukee. Credit: Jim Prisching / Associated Press