The Los Angeles Lakers entered the 2009-10 NBA season with aspirations to repeat as NBA Champions. They jumped out to an excellent 19-4 start and entered play on Dec. 16, 2009, just one game behind the Boston Celtics for the best overall record in the league.
Winners in 12 of their previous 13 contests, the Lakers looked to keep it rolling at Bradley Center in a Western Conference matchup against the 11-11 Milwaukee Bucks.
After a tightly-contested, back-and-forth affair in the first half, Los Angeles entered halftime trailing by two points. That’s when big man Pau Gasol set the tone offensively for the Lakers.
He’d scored 13 points in the first half, and added 13 more points over the remainder of the game. The Lakers and Bucks traded blows and found themselves tied at 95 at the end of regulation.
Kobe Bryant missed a game-winning shot but redeemed himself in overtime with a buzzer-beating clincher. Los Angeles ultimately pulled away and squeaked out a one-point victory to tab their 20th win of the season.
Gasol finished the contest with 26 points and a career-high 22 rebounds — three of them on the offensive end. He additionally tallied four assists, four blocks and a steal, as the seven-footer logged nearly 49 minutes on the court.
The Lakers received double-digit scoring contributions from a trio of players. Joining Bryant’s game-high 39 points and Gasol’s total of 26 was Metta World Peace, who added 10 of his own in roughly 41 minutes on the floor.
Leading the way for Milwaukee was Ersan Ilyasova, who led the starting five with a 24-point showing. Current Lakers big man Andrew Bogut also put up a double-double for the Bucks behind 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Bucks’ six-man Michael Redd led the team with 25 points in 36 minutes, but it was to no avail as the Lakers picked up a much-needed win to gain ground on the rival Celtics in the standings.
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