For at least one night, everything was right in Lakerland. The crowd got free tacos for the first time this season and everyone chipped in for an impressive 113-95 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
After avoiding another slow start, the Los Angeles Lakers pulled away to soundly defeat the Bucks, who had handed the Warriors their first loss on Saturday night. The purple and gold brought outstanding effort all night long, including a punishing 52-38 rebounding advantage that included 18 offensive boards and plenty of second chance points. The Lakers' offense was flowing tonight, with the ball unselfishly flying around the perimeter. That team ball led to plenty of open looks and a 10-for-27 performance from deep.
Kobe Bryant played a solid game tonight, with an efficient 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting and six dimes. He was effective at probing the Bucks' defense, knowing when to shoot, when to set up his teammates, and when to drive into the paint. He single-handedly sparked a 10-0 run in the third quarter with a vintage four point play and several slick passes to set up his teammates for easy looks.
The young guys brought the energy and filled up the stat sheet tonight. D’Angelo Russell had one of his best games of the season, with 19 points, a career-high seven assists, three steals, and only one turnover. Julius Randle rebounded from a couple of rough games with another double-double, chipping in 14 points and rebounds, dominating the Bucks on the offensive glass. Larry Nance Jr. had a modest 4 points and 5 rebounds, but had an incredible dunk in the third quarter and made a series of impressive hustle plays throughout his 23 minutes.
Milwaukee was missing Greg Monroe, who injured his knee in warm-ups. Despite well-rounded contributions from Michael Carter Williams (19 points and five assists / rebounds) and Giannis Antekounmpo (15 points, six rebounds, and five assists), Milwaukee was unable to overcome the relentless waves of energy the Lakers sent their way. They were simply unable to put together a string of stops on defense.
The Lakers will host Houston at home on Thursday before heading out to Oklahoma City and Denver for a short two-game road trip.