The Milwaukee Bucks already were trying to cope with the recent loss of center Andrew Bogut to an injury. Then they lost Stephen Jackson to a suspension just a few hours before tipoff.
They didn’t need either player to beat Los Angeles on Saturday night – another sign of just how bad the Lakers have been on the road this season.
Drew Gooden scored 23 points and the undermanned, undersized Bucks beat the Lakers 100-89.
”I mean, what are you going to do?” Milwaukee’s Mike Dunleavy said. ”Bogut’s not going to come in with a better ankle. We’re not going to get Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. So we know that we’ve got to play these big guys with guys with lesser size, but you do it with hard work and toughness.”
Kobe Bryant scored 27 with nine assists and eight rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Lakers from falling to 1-7 on the road this season.
Bryant didn’t have an explanation for the Lakers’ road woes, but said he and Lakers coach Mike Brown would meet to try and figure it out.
”We will have to put our heads together,” Bryant said. ”Me and Coach Brown will have to sit down and think of what is going on and how we can be a much better road team.”
Ersan Ilyasova and Dunleavy added 15 points each for the Bucks.
With Bogut out, the Lakers tried to take advantage of their pair of 7-footers, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. It wasn’t as easy as it seemed going in.
”In the first half, we did a decent job,” Gasol said. ”In the second half, there were not many touches. Defensively there was no excuse, (we’ve) got to do better. They were beating us all over the court.”
Bynum scored 15 points with nine rebounds. Gasol had 12 points and 15 rebounds, but shot 6 for 18 from the floor.
”It means a lot, especially with Bogut not being there,” said Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the defensive ace who spent much of the evening hounding Bryant. ”He’s always our anchor down there in the front line. For us to go out there and make it tough on a guy like Gasol, it’s big. That’s probably the reason why we won the game.”
Brown said he saw his team playing on its heels.
”Milwaukee was just more physical than us,” Brown said. ”They got up into us, they bothered us, they pressured us.”
Bryant did make six free throws to break Jerry West’s franchise record for free throws made. Coming into Saturday’s game, Bryant needed three makes to tie West’s mark of 7,160.
Bryant also came closer to becoming the Lakers’ career leader in field goals made. He was 10 of 21 from the floor Saturday, leaving him three short of tying Abdul-Jabbar’s franchise record of 9,935.
Bryant said the Lakers aren’t panicking.
”In this locker room, I don’t think so,” Bryant said. ”There’s concern and determination that we want to fix things. If we solve that issue, then we’ll be all right.”
The Bucks managed to beat the Lakers without Jackson, whose suspension was announced a few hours before the game.
The NBA suspended Jackson one game for verbal abuse of a game official and failure to leave the court in a timely manner at the end of the Bucks’ 107-100 loss at Chicago on Friday night.
It’s another rough moment for Jackson, who was benched by coach Scott Skiles in the Bucks’ Jan. 20 game at the New York Knicks.
Bogut, meanwhile, fractured his left ankle in Wednesday’s game at Houston and is expected to miss up to 12 weeks.
Even without Bogut and Jackson, the Bucks were in control most of the way Saturday. Ilyasova hit a jumper at the horn to end the third quarter, and the Bucks took an 80-73 lead into the fourth.
The Bucks led 85-76 after an inside score from Ilyasova with just under eight minutes left, but Bryant scored five straight points to cut the lead to four.
Mbah a Moute hit a jumper, then Gooden scored on a turnaround hook shot and hit a pair of free throws to run the lead back to 91-81.
Andrew Bynum scored inside, but Dunleavy hit a long jumper to give the Bucks a 93-83 lead with just over two minutes left.
After Bryant made a pair of free throws, Dunleavy drilled a 3-pointer to put the game away with 1:24 left.
Lakers rookie guard Andrew Goudelock scored 13 points despite being hospitalized for dehydration overnight. Goudelock was coming off his best performance of the year, having scored a career-high 14 points against the Clippers on Wednesday.
And in terms of contributions from the Lakers’ reserves, that was about it.
The Bucks, meanwhile, got big nights from Ilyasova and Dunleavy off the bench.
”We needed pretty much everybody,” Mbah a Moute said. ”I think everybody tonight came in and had good effort. We need to sustain that for the rest of this season, with Bogut not being there.”
Notes: The Bucks’ bench outscored the Lakers’ 37-24. … It was the 12th game in a row and 15th of the season in which the Bucks had at least one reserve score in double figures. … Saturday’s attendance was 18,027, the largest Bucks crowd of the season to date.