Bryant Scores 43 to Lead Lakers Over Bucks
L.A. Lakers 106, Milwaukee 96
LOS ANGELES, March 24 (Ticker) -- Another 40-point outing by Kobe Bryant gave the Los Angeles Lakers their usual result against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Bryant scored 43 points and Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown added 16 each as the Lakers beat the Bucks for the 10th straight time with a 101-96 triumph.
Los Angeles (37-34) defeated Milwaukee for the 12th time in 13 home meetings and 19 of the last 21 overall to take a 1 1/2-game lead over Sacramento for seventh place in the Western Conference.
The Lakers got off to a solid start, opening a 35-22 lead as Bryant made 6-of-9 shots - including five 3-pointers - for 17 points.
"I felt good," Bryant said of his first-quarter start. "I was getting good looks and my jumper was falling."
Milwaukee came back in the second period, closing with a 12-2 run to take a 57-53 halftime lead. Dan Gadzuric opened and closed the burst with jumpers and Michael Redd and Bobby Simmons nailed baskets from behind the arc.
Odom made three 3-pointers and Bryant and Brown added dunks during a 19-3 third-quarter spurt as the Lakers reclaimed a 79-71 advantage.
"We have watched a lot of film," Brown said. "When I was coming off the bench, other teams were not paying attention to me and now they are still not trying to play me. I think Kobe and Lamar are doing a great job passing the ball to me when I have a guy sealed."
The Bucks got within 93-90 before Redd lost control of the ball above the arc and Devean George made a no-look pass to Smush Parker, who dunked with 46 seconds left.
"It is always defense for us," Bryant said. "When we get deflections and get out in the open court, we can make plays that way. When they made their run to get back in the game, we lost our attention defensively and they were able to zero back in and get some runouts."
Simmons came back with a 3-pointer to cut the margin to 95-93 with 41 seconds remaining. However, Bryant made 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
"It feels good to get back to the free-throw line," Bryant said. "I can have confidence that when I attack the basket, they are just not going to have liberty to hit me and get away with it. I'll be able to get to the free-throw line and and get some easy points for our team."
"The way Kobe started off, we actually thought we did a pretty good job on him after the first quarter," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "After the first quarter, he made his foul shots down the stretch. But for 2 1/2 quarters, we did as good a job on him as you could ask."
Redd scored 20 points and Charlie Bell added 15 for the Bucks (34-35), who remain in seventh place in the East, 1 1/2 games over Philadelphia.
"We want to be better than where we are," Redd said. "The fifth spot is what our goal is right now but it is tight. It is a matter of us winning games down the stretch. Maybe we can get a three- or four-game winning streak going."
"Down the stretch there were a few shots that we missed that we would normally make," Simmons said. "As a team, I think we played a complete game."