Lakers tumble in final quarter vs. Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Kobe Bryant used a crutch to leave the arena after the Los Angeles Lakers’ latest loss.

Following Los Angeles’ 113-103 loss to
the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night, the Lakers said Bryant had a bone
spur in his left foot. He left the arena using one crutch, but appeared
to be walking without any pain.

Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points,
leaving him four points behind Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) for fourth
place on the NBA’s career list. He played 36 minutes and didn’t show any
signs of difficulty during the game.

“Inflamed on me. I’ll be all right,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers are eighth in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Utah for the final playoff spot.

Larry Sanders scored 13 of his
career-high 21 points in the third quarter for the Bucks. He was 8 of 11
from the floor and had 13 rebounds.

Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings
each had 20 points, Monta Ellis added 18, and Marquis Daniels had 16 to
help the Bucks snap a four-game losing streak.

“Our attention to detail was a little
bit better,” coach Jim Boylan said. “Larry was great, really active.
There was a lot of communicating going on. We’ve been struggling lately
and when you struggle you can get into your own little world, and that’s
a bad place to be.”

The Bucks hold the eighth playoff spot
in the Eastern Conference, and have a seven-game lead over ninth-place
Philadelphia with 11 games to go. However, they weren’t playing as a
unit, the effort and energy level were sagging, until the game against
the Lakers.

“You need to be playing a collective
game, whether it be offensively or defensively,” Boylan said. “Tonight,
for us was maybe breaking out of that shell a little bit.”

Sanders noticed the change, too.

“It’s easy to kind of get in slumps and
get that dark cloud over your head and stay there,” he said. “But, we
fought our way through tonight. It’s good and showed a lot of character.
You only lose when you stay down. You’ve got to get back up.”

Dwight Howard had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, and Steve Nash scored 16 points.

Howard said the Lakers needed to play better defense against the Bucks.

“We need to work together against these
guys,” he said. “We just didn’t do that tonight. Defense needs to be a
team effort each and every night.”

Ellis scored eight points for Milwaukee
during a late 12-3 run, making it 102-92 on a running in the lane. The
Lakers turned it over on the next possession, and Daniels raced down the
court and dunked to make it 104-92 with 4:12 left. The Lakers never got
closer than eight the rest of the way.

Jennings was on the bench, again,
during the fourth quarter. At 8:08 left, Boylan took Ellis out and put
Ellis in. He scored the Bucks’ next six points and turned the momentum.
JJ Redick, Ilyasova, Daniels and Sanders finished the game with Ellis.

Jennings also was benched in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s loss to Philadelphia.

He was unhappy about the move and felt picked on.

“Brandon played great tonight. I took
him out, had all intentions of putting him back in the game,” Boylan
said. “I had every intention of putting him back in the game, but then
the game started to roll in our favor. I didn’t want to mess with the
chemistry we had out on the court. Not that I didn’t trust Brandon to
come back and play well.”

The Lakers’ last gasp came early in the
fourth. Antwan Jamison scored twice and Howard dunked in a miss to help
the Lakers regain the lead at 83-82. The teams exchanged the lead four
times before Jennings’ 3-pointer at 8:23 put Milwaukee ahead for good.

The Bucks started turning it around in the third, using a 19-8 run to close the quarter with 82-77 lead.

Daniels stole an inbound pass from
Bryant under the Lakers’ basket and passed to Sanders, who dunked to
give Milwaukee a 70-69 lead with 4:23 left in the third. Sanders dunked
his way to nine points during the surge. The rest of his points came on a
hook shot and a free throw.

NOTES:
Lakers forward Metta World Peace had surgery Thursday on a torn
meniscus in his left knee. He was injured in Los Angeles’ loss to Golden
State on Monday night and is expected to miss at least six weeks. …
The crowd cheered when the public address announcer said that Marquette
beat Miami to advance in the NCAA basketball tournament. … Lakers
coach Mike D’Antoni said Nash’s back and hamstring “fired up on him. He
toughed it out at first. I could tell he was hurting.”