Although a long list of Hall of Famers has led them to 16 NBA championships, the Los Angeles Lakers’ current cast of little-known players put up a better one-quarter performance than any of those teams.
Now the Lakers are hoping to continue their recent scoring surge on the road against a Milwaukee Bucks team that has struggled defensively during another lengthy slide.
With Pau Gasol out again, Los Angeles seeks its longest winning streak in four months while sending Milwaukee to a third losing streak of at least nine games Thursday night.
The Lakers (24-46) were missing high-profile stars Gasol, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash on Tuesday, but used a balanced attack to set a franchise record with 51 points in the third quarter en route to a season-high total in a 127-96 home win over New York.
They went 19 for 26 from the field during the historic outburst, shooting 57.8 percent overall and just one 3-pointer shy of the single-game club record with 18 on 28 attempts.
Xavier Henry finished with 22 points, Nick Young had 20 with five 3-pointers and Kent Bazemore scored 18 to lead the last-place Lakers to consecutive victories for the first time in more than three weeks.
”It feels good, but it only lasts one night,” said Henry, who played well despite a torn ligament in his shooting wrist. ”We’ve just got to be encouraged for the rest of the season from it.”
Los Angeles, however, will be without Gasol (vertigo) for the second straight game and Nash (nerve irritation) for the 60th time this season when it goes for its first three-game run since Nov. 17-24. Gasol, averaging team highs of 17.5 points and 9.8 rebounds, won’t travel with the team on a trip that also takes the Lakers to Minnesota.
Chris Kaman started at center Tuesday, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds in his first action in nearly a month.
The Lakers have scored 111.5 per game – 9.2 above their season average – while shooting 48.4 percent overall and 44.9 percent from beyond the arc in their last four.
They may be able to maintain that production against the Bucks, who have surrendered 111.9 points per game during their eight-game skid. NBA-worst Milwaukee (13-58), which also allows a league-high 38.5 3-point percentage, has endured previous losing streaks of nine and 11 games this season.
”It’s been a struggle and continues to be," coach Larry Drew said. "But the positive of the whole thing is that we’ve got a group of young guys that are willing to learn."
Although former Lakers guard Ramon Sessions had a career-high 28 points Monday, the Bucks dropped their ninth straight and 19th in 20 road games in a 106-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Their only victory away from home during that stretch was a 94-79 win over the Lakers on New Year’s Eve. Young and Gasol had 25 points apiece, but Milwaukee held Los Angeles to 35.8 percent from the floor.
Brandon Knight put up a career-high 37 points for the Bucks in that contest, but he’s totaled 15 points while missing 19 of 24 shots in his last two games.
Ersan Ilyasova, who has scored a combined 35 in the last two meetings, could be sidelined for a second straight game because of an ankle injury.
The Bucks have won four of the last five meetings.