Lakers power forwrad Pau Gasol tries to drive to the basket against Bucks… (Jim Prisching / Associated…)
Reporting from Milwaukee – These are the games that alarm Lakers fans, that lead to TVs getting turned off and Twitter accounts fired up.
The Milwaukee Bucks were without two key players, but the Lakers looked undermanned in a 100-89 loss Saturday at Bradley Center.
They continued their pathetic performances on the road, falling to 1-7, and set a team record with their 13th consecutive game under 100 points. Not since 1953-54, the season before the shot clock, have they been this futile.
Kobe Bryant played well in a staggeringly high 42 minutes, but Pau Gasol reverted back to shrinking status by making a woeful six of 18 shots.
None of it made sense.
The Bucks were without Andrew Bogut (broken ankle) and Stephen Jackson (one-game suspension), but they rattled the Lakers despite a front line measuring 6 feet 10, 6-8 and 6-6.
Jackson and Bogut average a combined 24.1 points. They were barely missed.
The Bucks (8-11) outhustled the Lakers in every aspect, ripping away from them with a 17-0 run at one point between the first and second quarters.
The Lakers, by the way, have scored more than 100 points exactly once in 20 games, a 108-99 bonanza against Houston on Jan.3.
They have problems. Bryant was even asked if this was the toughest challenge in a career book that didn't have too many chapters left.
"I don't know if it's adversity, but a short season, not having any practice time is the biggest challenge," he said quietly in front of his locker after totaling 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. "We have a lot of guys we need to get on the same page. We have so much youth, particularly coming off the bench. We've got to shorten that learning curve."
The biggest problem Saturday was the veteran big men. Gasol looked like a four-time All-Star three days earlier against the Clippers but had only 12 points against the undersized Bucks. Andrew Bynum had a quiet 15 points.
"That was tough to watch us not be able to finish when we had the ball in the paint," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said.
Gasol said the Lakers went "through the motions" and lamented not fighting back against the surprisingly physical Bucks.
"They got into us [physically] more than we got into them," he said. "It would have been good probably to ? understand that we just weren't going to take that contact but we didn't do it. Hopefully we learned a lesson."
It has already been a season of lessons in barely five weeks. The inability to score and to win on the road are two glaring weaknesses.
"I just hope that we don't need a home crowd to get us juiced, to play the right way," Brown said. "We're not bringing it mentally nor physically when we're playing on the road."
The Lakers had won eight of their last 10 in Milwaukee, and Bryant's runner brought them within 85-81 with 4:52 to play. They came no closer.
Drew Gooden, Bogut's replacement, had 23 points.
Bryant set a franchise record for most career free throws made, passing Jerry West in the fourth quarter. He now has 7,163. He is also within three made field goals of matching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's franchise record of 9,935.
He didn't seem in the mood to discuss much history.
"I'll have to talk to my guys and see what's going on," he said of the Lakers' road woes. "Myself and Coach Brown, we'll have to sit down and think of what's going on and how we can be a much better road team."
With 20 games gone in a 66-game season, they better figure it out soon.