Milwaukee is trying to match its longest winning streak of the season while dealing Los Angeles its worst skid in nearly two years.
The Bucks won eight of their first 11 this season, limiting opponents to 94.5 points per game. That defense faltered as they lost 15 of 19 and gave up an average of 101.3 points.
Milwaukee (15-18) has tightened things back up to win three straight, allowing 88.7 points per game.
Los Angeles (28-8), though, has scored at least 100 in 17 straight home games against the Bucks dating back to Nov. 24, 1991. The Lakers have won 15 of those meetings.
Plus, they’ve averaged 113.0 points in winning their last four games at Staples Center and are an NBA-best 20-3 at home.
The Bucks have lost nine of 11 on the road, but they limited New Jersey to 76 points Tuesday to win their most recent road game. Three days later, they held Chicago without a field goal for nearly seven minutes during the fourth quarter of a 96-93 victory.
“To go on the West Coast trip now with a big win like this, it’s huge,” said Andrew Bogut(notes), who had a team-best 27 points. “We were struggling before the New Year and people were questioning whether we’re all together as a team. … It’s good to know your teammates got your back.”
The Bucks improved to 11-1 when Bogut scores at least 17, and the 7-footer has averaged a team-best 22.7 points during the win streak. Michael Redd(notes) has added 20.0 per game in that stretch and scored a team-leading 25 in Milwaukee’s previous meeting with Los Angeles on Dec. 16.
That game, however, marked the Bucks’ fourth straight loss in the series as Kobe Bryant(notes) hit a 15-footer at the buzzer in overtime to give the Lakers a 107-106 victory. Bryant scored 39 points in that game and has averaged 31.5 during the win streak over the Bucks.
“I hate losing to him,” Redd said.
The Lakers, however, enter Sunday having dropped consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 13-15. They haven’t lost three in a row since Jan. 23-27, 2008.
Gasol has missed the past three games with a sore left hamstring and there’s no official word on his status, though coach Phil Jackson hinted the forward could return as early as Sunday. The Lakers are 19-3 this season when he’s played, compared to 9-5 when he hasn’t.
Gasol, averaging 16.8 points and a team-best 11.5 rebounds, had 26 points and 22 boards at Milwaukee last month.
Since his injury, Los Angeles has scored 92.3 points per game after averaging 115.8 over its previous five.
The Lakers were held below 100 points for a season-high third consecutive game Friday in a 107-98 defeat at Portland.