Over his past four games, Kobe Bryant is shooting 47.4 percent from the field and playing 29.3 minutes per game. The 37-year-old is also shooting 35.0 percent on three-pointers, but even with Bryant playing a responsible number of minutes and providing efficient production, the Los Angeles Lakers (3-21) have lost all four of those games.
In fact, the Lakers lost the last six games of their road trip and seven of the eight road games overall. Tired and beaten, the Lakers have knocked out nearly half of their travel for the entire season. On Tuesday night, though, the Lakers finally get a home game, as the Milwaukee Bucks (10-15) visit Staples Center in a title match.
The Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to beat the 2015 World Champions Golden State Warriors, so the Bucks are the unofficial world champions. If the Lakers beat the Bucks on Tuesday, LA would assume that prestigious title. Granted, this particular title doesn't come with a ring, trophy, parade or even any true acknowledgement from the players or coaches, but it’s about as close as the three-win Lakers will get to being world champs this season.
Milwaukee is an athletic team with young talent that is still slightly better developed than the Lakers’ roster. That being said, the Bucks are 2-10 on the road, so the Lakers could have a legitimate shot at getting their second home win of the season (and winning the title).
Jordan Clarkson returns to the starting lineup after missing two games due to a sprained ankle. Over the past three games, Russell averaged 19.7 points and 4.3 assists in 35.0 minutes, though all those numbers expect to decrease with Clarkson back on the court. With Clarkson’s return, though, rookie D’Angelo Russell returns to the bench.
While Russell looked more comfortable in the offense and managed to find his own shots, he did get a bit trigger happy and slightly careless with the ball. Russell averaged 19 field goal attempts with only converted at a rate of 38.5 percent. However, Russell’s three-pointers appear to be falling, as the rookie is finding his range. Russell has made at least two three-pointers in each of his last three games.
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Bucks center Greg Monroe leads the visitors with 16.2 points per game on 52.5 percent shooting from the field to go along with 9.8 rebounds per game. Roy Hibbert and the Lakers will hope to limit Monroe to a 20-point 10-rebound game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo may well be the most athletic player in the NBA, and the “Greek Freak” leads a group of six other Bucks that average scoring in double figures, along with Monroe. Yes, the Bucks have such a balanced team that no single player averages more than 13 shots per game, while seven players averaged 10 or more points per game.
Off the bench, John Henson is a defensive monster. Henson leads the team with 1.33 blocks per game despite only averaging 15.2 minutes per contest.
Second-year forward Jabari Parker, who appeared in 25 games for Milwaukee in 2014-15, scored a season-high 19 points in the historic win over the Golden State Warriors.