On the Lakers:
The shorthanded Bucks travel to Los Angeles to face the ever-so-slightly superior of the two Los Angeles NBA teams.
The anti-Bucks. The Lakers return home on a five-game winning streak. Pretty nifty 6-1 road trip out east for Los Angeles, who most recently dropped 120 in Toronto. They are the top-ranked offensive team in terms of efficiency, are on an absolute roll, and they are getting healthy -- in other words, pretty much the exact opposite of Milwaukee. The Bucks were pretty miserable offensively last night (and all season), have lost two straight mostly hopeless games, and it should also be noted that Brandon Jennings, out four-to-six weeks, was terrific against the Lakers in the first matchup in Milwaukee, going for 31/3/6.
The Lakers have been easing Andrew Bynum back into the lineup over the past week, but he really got going with 16 points and 7 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench against the Raptors, and the Lakers are just terrifying right now.
Lost Angeles. The last time the Bucks arrived in Los Angeles to face the Lakers they were on a winter high having won three in a row. And then the Lakers won the first quarter 24-8. They didn't even play particularly well that night (Kobe Bryant shot 4-21), but the Bucks were just awful. Milwaukee ended up scoring 77 points, and not many people watched all of them as Scott Skiles benched the starters early. Notably, Andrew Bogut made one field goal and was thoroughly dominated by Andrew Bynum, and Michael Redd didn't score in 11 minutes and hasn't played a minute since then.
What can Brown do for you? Dunk, make half-court buzzer beaters, etcetera. And Shannon Brown particularly likes to do said things against Milwaukee. His last two games against the Bucks: 20.0 points, 71.4 fg%, 75.0 3pt%.
Extraordinary Joe. Joe Smith, who has played for more teams (12, including the Bucks) than Drew Gooden, could debut tonight for the Lakers tonight after the team acquired him in a three-team deal that banished Sasha Vujacic to New Jersey.
Jumpers. Scott Skiles spoke after the Blazers game about how the team wasn't hitting jump shots, again. That is true, and it's been infuriatingly true all season. Last night the Bucks made 1-7 (.143) from 10-15 feet, 6-22 (.273) from 16-23 feet, and 4-14 (.285) from beyond the arc.
But what you might not guess is that the Lakers are just about as inaccurate as the Bucks are shooting from 16-23 feet. As of Dec. 14, the Lakers were at 36.1 % from that distance compared to 35.9 % for the Bucks, ranking 25th and 26th respectively. Then again, the Lakers are a good three-point shooting team and the Bucks are the very worst from 10-15 feet.
Blocked out. Kobe Bryant (who is playing at an MVP-calibar, truthfully) has blocked one shot in the last month. You have to dig deep to find something wrong with this team.