The Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour continues tonight when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Milwaukee Bucks. Kobe has plenty of memories in Milwaukee, from duels with a young Ray Allen to a game-winning buzzer-beater back in 2009, which was a string of several clutch shots that season.
Tonight is the second game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, who lost last night to the Chicago Bulls. There are just 25 more games remaining in the season, and the Lakers are on track to have the worst record in franchise history. The Lakers need to win 11 of their next 25 games to avoid this fate, but more losses will give them a better chance to retain their top-3 protected 2016 first round draft pick.
The Bucks jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, and the Lakers struggled to find openings against the length of the Bucks defense until Kobe made a turnaround jumper from the baseline. The Bucks continued to score at a high pace, getting easy points in transition and in the paint and the Lakers trailed 10-15 midway through the first quarter. Kobe Bryant hit yet another career milestone, grabbing his 7,000th rebound of his career, but the Lakers had no answer for the Bucks length as they trailed by 11 points with 3:03 remaining in the first quarter. Larry Nance Jr. checked into the game and made his impact felt, diving to the rim for a layup and then assisted a Brandon Bass dunk on the next possession. The Lakers shot a poor 35 percent from the field and trailed 19-29 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lakers were not able to get a field goal to drop in the first three minutes of the second quarter but, fortunately, were able to get six points from the free throw line and still trailed by nine points. The Lakers continued to settle for contested outside jumpers while the Bucks scored easily in the paint, and the Lakers trailed 28-38 with 6:43 remaining in the half. Clarkson caught fire and hit four three-pointers, including a four-point play, and the Lakers trailed by just two points with 4:48 to play in the second quarter. Kobe Bryant also scored seven straight points, but the Lakers still did not have an answer for the Bucks’ 32 points in the paint. D’Angelo Russell made pull-up three-pointer just before time expired and the Lakers trailed the Bucks 48-54 at the half.
Julius Randle was held scoreless in the first half, but he started out the second half making one of two from the free-throw line to go along with his four rebounds. The Lakers defense was weak coming out of the locker room and the Buck extended their advantage to 13 points, with 8:13 to go in the third quarter. The Bucks then opened the game wide open courtesy of consecutive three-pointers by O.J. Mayo and the Lakers trailed by 17 points with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Lakers offense became stagnant, as they relied on isolations with little ball movement, and the Bucks extended their lead to 20 points midway through the third. The Lakers turned the ball over 14 times and allowed 54 points in the paint, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk off the glass by Antetokounmpo. After the third quarter, the Lakers trailed the Bucks 65-90.
Byron Scott inserted Tarik Black and Marcelo Huertas in the game to start the fourth quarter, and Nance Jr. would not return to the game because of a sore right knee. Nance’s knee was what kept him sidelined before the All-Star break, so the Lakers will hope this is not a setback. The Lakers managed to go on a 9-0 run, but still trailed by 17 points with 6:44 remaining in regulation. Nick Young knocked down back-to-back threes and cut the Bucks’ lead to 13 with just under four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Despite Young’s scoring outburst, the Bucks managed to keep control of the game.
Final score: Lakers 101, Bucks 108.