For one last time, Kobe Bryant will adjust his sneakers, tuck in his purple and gold jersey and play NBA basketball in the city of Milwaukee.
The farewell tour for the five-time champion makes a final stop inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center this evening as Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers visit the Milwaukee Bucks aiming to end a five-game losing streak.
MORE: Kidd's admiration for Bryant
It took two thrilling overtimes for the Bucks to snap a six-game road losing streak, but a 117-109 victory in Atlanta was certainly worth it.
Jabari Parker was again the star of the night, finishing with a career-high 28 points in a career-high 51 minutes. The second year pro from Duke also pulled down 13 rebounds for the Bucks, making Saturday the second 20/10 game of his career -- and the second in the span of around 24 hours. In his last three games, Parker has been sensational on offense, averaging 22.7 points and 11 boards, with all three of those games being in 40+ minutes.
Michael Carter-Williams finished with 17 points and put the game away after starting the second overtime on fire with three consecutive baskets (two jumpers and a layup). It marked a welcome turnaround for MCW, who struggled for much of the game but ultimately helped seal the game with his play on both ends.
The Bucks are 3-1 with Greg Monroe and Carter-Williams coming off the bench — a move Kidd made primarily to help the second unit — but it seems like maybe the lineup switch is allowing Parker more opportunities. Parker's usage has jumped from 18.8 to 21.7 over the past four, while his shot attempts have increased from 10.1 to 15.8. Kidd insisted he'll ride the same lineup for a few more games, which very much could result in Parker continuing to play at this level and the Bucks winning a few more games. If something isn't broke, why fix it?
MORE: Why Greg Monroe admires Kobe's footwork
One other thing that shouldn't be ignored regarding the lineup switch is Giannis Antetokounmpo's three double-doubles. Giannis and Jabari have been working well on offense together, which has been especially crucial given Khris Middleton's recent shooting slump. Although he has finished with point totals of 20, 27, 20 and 12, Middleton has shot 37 percent or lower in three of the past four.
Former Marquette and Brown Deer High School star Steve Novak could make his Bucks debut tonight after signing his new contract and and going through his first practice this morning. Don't look for Novak to play a substantial role for the remainder of the season, but his ability to stretch the floor could earn him situational minutes for a Bucks team that has struggled from beyond the arc all season.
Injury report: Jerryd Bayless (knee) and John Henson (sore lower back) are both listed as out for tonight's game.
Tonight's matchup against the Bucks will be the second of a back-to-back for Lakers, but it won't force Bryant to sit out. After dislocating his finger and returning Friday, Bryant still managed to play Sunday night in Chicago and recorded 22 points in 27 minutes. He indicated after the game he would absolutely play in Milwaukee. How much? That's a question we'll know once the game begins.
Bryant hasn't really recovered from a disastrous start to his 20th year in the league. When the Bucks visited the Lakers on Dec. 15., Bryant started the season shooting a horrid 32 percent from the field and 23 percent from the 3-point line — unheard of levels of inefficiency for a player who ate a ton of their possessions. His field goal percentage has only upped to 35 percent while his 3-point percent is still in the 20s at 27 percent.
Lakers coach Byron Scott announced yesterday that rookie D'Angelo Russell will start at point guard for the remainder of the season, moving 2014-15 Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams back to the bench. Russell finished with 15 points and six assists last night in Chicago.
On the Lakers: Silver Screen and Roll | Lakers Nation
|15/16 NBA Season|
|February 22, 2016|
|BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
|Fox Sports Wisconsin | 620 WTMJ|
|O.J. Mayo||PG||D'Angelo Russell|
|Khris Middleton||SG||Jordan Clarkson|
|Jabari Parker||SF||Kobe Bryant|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||PF||Julius Randle|
|Miles Plumlee||C||Roy Hibbert|
|2015/16 Advanced Stats|