Lakers vs. Bucks Pre-Game Report: Bogut-less Bucks Host Kobe and Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers (11-8) at Milwaukee Bucks (7-11)
5:00 PM PST, January 20, 2012
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Bucks Projected Starting Line-up

PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Carlos Deflino
SF: Stephen Jackson
PF: Ersan Ilyasova
C: Drew Gooden

Key Reserves: PF Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, GF Mike Dunleavy, G Shaun Livingston

Injuries: C Andrew Bogut

After irking out a close win at home against the Clippers, the Lakers head to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks. Last season the Lakers and the Bucks split the season series 1-1. Notably, the Bucks crushed the Lakers in LA, 98-79. The Bucks don’t possess a great record, but if the Lakers take them lightly they could quickly find themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard. A road win is always an accomplishment, so let’s hope the Lakers are focused Saturday night in Milwaukee.

Frontcourt: The Bucks received some bad news this week when it was announced that their starting center, Andrew Bogut, would miss 8-12 weeks with a fractured ankle. Bogut was a key part of their frontcourt and without him they will certainly struggle. Gooden will most likely plug in at the center position; however, he is undersized at 6’10’’ and 250 pounds. Ilyasova and Mbah a Moute split time at the four. Ilyasova tallied 19 boards against the Rockets earlier this week so the Lakers will want to box him out. Mbah a Moute is a great defender, but isn’t much of an offensive threat.

Backcourt: Brandon Jennings headlines the Bucks backcourt. He leads the team with 22 points and 2.2 three-pointers per game. Lakers guard Derek Fisher will have a tough time staying in front of the speedy guard. At the two, Delfino is a player who shoots more than half of his shots from beyond the arc. He averages 1.7 treys at a decent 35.2 percent. Rounding out the backcourt is veteran Stephen Jackson, who is a natural scorer. Jackson is only averaging 13 points this year, but he could easily go off for 30-plus if the Lakers don’t take him seriously. Dunleavy has given the Bucks a scoring boost off the bench since returning from injury – averging 17.5 points in his last two games.

Keys to Lakers’ Victory:

Dominate the Paint – Since the Bucks are missing Bogut, Bynum and Gasol should be able to have their way in the paint. Bynum has a 40 pound advantage over Gooden, and should be able to overpower him. If Bynum has less than 20 points that means that the Lakers probably didn’t give him the ball enough.

Stop Jennings – Jennings is the main scorer and key catalyst for the Bucks. He has range, but also likes to penetrate and kick. Plain and simple, if the Lakers can stop him they can stop the Bucks. However, it’s much easier said than done. Fisher will have a tough time staying in front of the young speedster. I’d expect Morris and Goudelock to get a few chances at stopping him.

Lakers Injury watch: Steve Blake (fractured rib cartilege, out until mid-February), Derrick Caracter (torn meniscus in left knee, out through January)

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