Any time the Milwaukee Bucks really needed a shot, they got it. Larry Sanders played like an NBA All-Star with the amazing defensive duo of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol guarding him, while the perimeter defense of Kobe Bryant, who left the arena on a crutch, helped Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis look like the best backcourt duo in the NBA.
Is Kobe Bryant injured again? According to him, he’ll be alright. Didn’t seem to be in pain leaving the arena. Just a precautionary aid. He finished with 30 points, but on a terrible 6-17 from the field, as the Bucks beat the Lakers 113-103 as two teams who don’t really have too much of a bench let their starting five’s have a go at each other, and the Lakers, as usual in these type of games, finished with their hand on the bottom, hoping the Utah Jazz don’t remember what it’s like to win consecutive games.
We need to work together against these guys. We just didn’t do that tonight. Defense needs to be a team effort each and every night.
Dwight Howard is supposed to be the anchor this defense relies upon, but he’s not at his best this season, for physical and mental reasons. The guys around him aren’t helping him. The disastrous defending of Steve Nash was on for only 23 minutes, but having Steve Blake on the floor for 31 minutes wasn’t much better. Jennings finished with 20 points and 7 assists on 50% from the field. Monta Ellis finished with 18 points and 9 assists on 50% from the field. When the two of them shoot that well, it means A) trouble and B) you have a lousy defense.
It’s no longer a case of Bryant being burnt because of Nash or anyone else next to him. He makes no effort stopping pick n’ rolls or getting back to help interior D as the Lakers play a small lineup when someone blows by him. He does his thing on offense (30 points, most of ‘em from the line while shooting 6-17 from the field), but forgets about what’s really important.
Now Steve Nash is hurt as well, as the blows come all together for the Lakers, who seemed to be heading in the right direction before their age and health was exposed once again, losing three of their last four games, now only 0.5 games above Utah for the final ticket to the playoffs. Talent? It’s there. Will to win? It’s there. But physically, it seems this season has been too much for the Lakers, and they might be falling apart, showing all of their weaknesses, at the worst possible timing.