The Bucks began the season with three wins in their first four games, but have lost four straight since. Milwaukee is 0-4 away from home this season, and lost the second game of its four-game trip on Sunday, 88-79 at Sacramento.
It’s been more than 2 1/2 years since an Eastern Conference team other than the Bucks won at Sacramento—and until the Kings woke up for a decisive rally, Milwaukee was ready to steal another one.
The Bucks took a 65-58 lead with 7 1/2 minutes left, but the Kings then used an 18-2 run to take command of the game.
“As a team, when we get a lead in the second half, we need to develop more of a killer instinct,” said Bucks forward Keith Van Horn, who scored 15 points before fouling out with 3:58 left. “Tonight, it was more of a combination of poor shooting and good defense.”
All-Star guard Michael Redd struggled for Milwaukee, scoring 16 points on 6-of-22 shooting.
“A tip here, a tip there, our record could easily be over .500, but it’s not that way,” Redd said. “We’re challenged with a difficult task ahead of us. We’ve got to keep playing hard.”
Los Angeles won for the third time in its last four games Sunday, beating the Chicago Bulls 102-93 for its third straight home victory.
Kobe Bryant had one of the strangest games of his career for the Lakers. He had 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, but missed nine foul shots including one he tried to bank in, and committed nine of his team’s 17 turnovers.
“Yeah, it was (strange),” Bryant said with a smile. “Well enough for the win. I won’t lose any sleep over it.”
Bryant entered the game having shot 101-of-116 (87.1 percent) from the foul line. He was 8-of-17 Sunday, missing six of his first eight attempts.
His eighth try, late in the first period, hit the backboard and the front rim before bouncing away.
“Kobe had a rare night at the free throw line,” Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. “That tightened the game up a little bit. We’re going to have games like this.”
Milwaukee, which concludes its trip Wednesday in Phoenix, has lost six straight in the series with Los Angeles. The Bucks haven’t won on the road against the Lakers since a 109-105 victory on Dec. 12, 2000.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 21): Bucks - 4th place, 3 GB, Central Division. Lakers - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Bucks - Redd, 25.3 ppg; Smith, 8.9 rpg; Williams, 7.4 apg. Lakers - Bryant, 27.9 ppg and 5.9 apg; Odom, 10.5 rpg.
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Lakers, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: March 21; Lakers 104-103, OT. At Los Angeles, Van Horn made a 3-pointer with 42.9 seconds remaining to give the Bucks a 103-102 lead, but Bryant answered with a jumper from near the top of the key with 25.1 seconds left to give the Lakers the win.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bucks - 0-4 on the road; Lakers - 4-1 at home.