Milwaukee Bucks Forward John Salmons drives to the basket on L.A. Laker’s star Kobe Bryant during the Bucks recent game against the world champions at the Bradley Center recently. At left, the Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings takes a breather between plays during the game. (Photos by Kim Robinson)
by Troy A. Sparks
John Hammond could’ve watched the Bucks game against the L.A. Lakers, Nov. 16, anywhere at the Bradley Center or at home.
Instead, the general manager chose the bird’s eye view on the 200 level. He stood in the aisle of section 214, like a shop foreman, looking down at his workers.
What Hammond saw was another win by the visitors. It wasn’t just about how the Lakers won, but what it took for the two-time defending world champions to pull it off.
What probably crossed his mind was that some of the 18,059 fans wore Lakers jerseys, T-shirts and jackets. Wait a minute. I thought that was “fear the dear” territory.
As I stated in an earlier column on the Bucks, we had to see if the fans would be loyal to the marquee teams that come in the BC or to the home team.
Kobe Bryant had his usual cast of characters with him on the court to start the game. There was Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher. Then there was Ron Artest, who actually thanked his psychologist on TV on the day they won the NBA title. The team might carry a couple of them on their road trips to keep Artest under control.
Lamar Odom has his own drama with his baby’s mama disliking his wife, Chloe Kardashian, and refusing to allow his two kids by this woman to appear on their upcoming reality TV show. Sometimes, Odom’s frustration level showed on the court with 13 points and his five fouls, including a flagrant 1 foul on Milwaukee’s Drew Gooden in the fourth quarter.
L.A. wasn’t about to lose their third straight game, and their 114-104 victory over Milwaukee wasn’t luck. Last year, Bryant hit a last second shot to beat the Bucks here.
Before the game, Bucks coach Scott Skiles said that Phil Jackson, the Lakers coach, probably had a hard time convincing his team that losing consecutive games is just part of the nature of the NBA.
Hammond and the rest of us saw the Lakers get some breaks in the game, and he saw the breakdown in the Bucks’ defense. The team could’ve used some tips from Desmond Bishop, Nick Collins, Tramon Williams and Brandon Chillar. Those players from the Packers’ defense, who were at the game, know how to put the clamps on stopping the opposition.
With Bryant getting hot early in the first quarter with 10 points, it appeared that he was on pace to score at least 40. He had 31. We know that Bryant get some favorable calls. But hey, when you’re the world champs, you’re supposed to catch some breaks here and there.
I watched Hammond during the third quarter shaking his head and chomping on his gum. When Andrew Bogut got a foul with 3 minutes 26 seconds left, the GM shook his head with his hands in his pocket. Hammond shook his head again while Bryant shot the free throws that gave the Lakers an 82-75 lead.
About 51 seconds later, Hammond leaves, then he comes back. He had a disappointing look on his face when L.A. was ahead, 99-88 in the fourth quarter. So after watching the dismantling of the Bucks by the Lakers, I wondered what Hammond will do to get some players on the team who can play defense.
How frustrating was it when the Lakers shot 54 percent from the field, 63 percent from three-point range and 83 percent from the free-throw line, compared to 46, 38 and 59 percent for the Bucks? I would say that it was very frustrating. And with 1 ½ minutes left in the game, the fans headed for the exits when the outcome was already decided.
MCJ Sales Representative, Jimmy Johnson, should be happy that his Lakers beat the Bucks at the BC. He thinks the Lakers will run the tables in the playoffs for another three-peat. If the playoffs began today, Johnson’s prediction would be right on point. I don’t think it will happen. Boston wants to avenge their seven-game loss to the purple and gold, or, it might be a Miami vs. L.A. Lakers final.
Meanwhile, the Bucks ended last weekend on a three-game losing streak. They lost at Philadelphia to the Sixers, 90-79. The Oklahoma City Thunder, without Kevin Durant, sneaked by the Bucks, 82-81, at the BC, Nov. 20.
Great Start for Marquette Men’s and Women’s Hoop Teams
Both the Marquette men’s and women’s teams won their first four games at home. Now it’s time for them to hit the road.
The men’s team used pressure defense and quickness to the basket in wins over Prairie View A&M, Bucknell, UW-Green Bay and South Dakota. After they play Duke and either Kansas State or Gonzaga in the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Kansas City, the Golden Eagles return to Milwaukee to play at UW-Milwaukee, Nov. 27.
The deal between the two schools called for Marquette to host the first three games at the BC. UWM will be at home this year at the U.S. Cellular Arena against the Golden Eagles. Next year, the Panthers will complete their five-game series across the street at the BC.
Based on past results, UWM may lose again. They never beat Marquette in 37 tries, losing the last three games by an average of 25 points.
Out of the four wins at the Al McGuire Center by the women’s team, the most impressive was the victory over Michigan, Nov. 19. It looks like they’re taking a page from the men’s team, which is playing up tempo basketball.
Women’s coach, Terri Mitchell, credits her conditioning coach for getting her team in shape and the players going at 100 miles per hour for 40 minutes. The women return Dec. 1.