(AP) — After an 8-0 start, the Los Angeles Lakers have lost two straight and are seeking a spark as they try to get back on track.
The NBA’s highest-scoring team will look to do so when it takes on the league’s top defensive club Tuesday night.
The Lakers begin a three-game Midwest road trip against the Milwaukee Bucks, who are allowing a league-low 89.4 points per game.
Los Angeles scored more than 100 points for the ninth time in 10 games Sunday, but fell 121-116 to Phoenix. The Lakers gave up 22 3-pointers – the second-highest total in NBA history.
“You hate losing, especially to start a road trip, but it is what it is,” guard Kobe Bryant said. “They made big shots, a lot of them.”
Bryant ended up just shy of his 18th career triple-double, finishing with 25 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds. Pau Gasol had team-highs of 28 points and 17 rebounds while Lamar Odom added 22 points and 11 boards.
“You know you’re always upset when you lose,” coach Phil Jackson said. “This is about winning, this game is, and losing is a part parcel that you’re dealing with as far as accepting it.”
The Lakers (8-2) are scoring an NBA-high 112.5 points a game. Bryant’s 25.2 average ranks third in the league, but he may have a tough time reaching that number against Milwaukee.
This season, only Boston’s Paul Pierce (28), Charlotte’s D.J. Augustin (26) and New Orleans’ David West (25) have equaled or surpassed that average against the Bucks, who haven’t allowed a 30-point scorer in 11 games. Milwaukee (5-5) held Bryant to 12 points on 4-of-21 shooting in the last meeting Jan. 10, although the Lakers won 95-77.
Milwaukee was particularly impressive against run-and-gun Golden State on Saturday, shutting down the Warriors in a 79-72 victory. The Bucks haven’t given up 100 points in regulation for nine straight contests.
“Very good game and we needed it,” coach Scott Skiles said. “We only scored 79 points, and you don’t often win when you score 79. Our defense was solid, we rebounded the ball well. We got after them early and made them turn it over a little bit.
“We’re starting to string together a couple good defensive performances.”
John Salmons scored a season-high 26 points for the Bucks, winners of three straight and four of five.
“Our defense has been great all year, and we were able to hold a good offensive club to 34 percent (shooting), ” Salmons said.
The Bucks may need a similar defensive effort against the Lakers, as they’re 28th in the league with 92.1 points a game. Point guard Brandon Jennings leads the team at 15.7 points per contest.
Los Angeles has won five straight in the series, and Bryant is 21-4 against Milwaukee in his career.
Updated November 15, 2010
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