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Lakers 104, Bucks 88

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant each scored 31 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers put the clamps on the Milwaukee backcourt in a 104-88 win over the Bucks on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers won their second straight game by ratcheting up the defensive effort, a task that plagued the team during its recent six-game losing streak and for much of the season.

Two days after holding the Cleveland Cavaliers to 41 percent shooting while leading by as much as 30 in a 20-point win at Staples Center, the Lakers held Milwaukee to just 35.8 percent shooting (34-for-95). The Bucks shot just 7-for-28 from 3-point range, including a combined 3-for-15 from guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings.

Howard and Bryant, meanwhile, flashed an inside-outside game that has also been largely absent this season.

The Lakers finished with 30 assists -- including 24 from the starters -- while committing just eight turnovers. Milwaukee's starters had seven assists and six turnovers.

Howard had one of his best games in a Lakers uniform, as he hit 14 of 18 shots from the field, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked four shots. Bryant hit 12 of 19 field-goal attempts, including three of five 3-point tries, and he doled out six assists, all in the first half. Metta World Peace added 12 points and six rebounds and finished with a plus-minus rating of pluy-27. Steve Nash had 11 assists to go along with eight points.

While the Bucks' first unit struggled -- Ellis finished with 17 points on 6-of-16 shooting; Jennings had 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting -- Milwaukee's reserves outscored Los Angeles' 39-16.

Beno Udrih had 14 points and seven assists off the bench for the Bucks, and Mike Dunleavy added 10 points.

NOTES: Point guard Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) remains out for the Lakers, as does forward Pau Gasol (concussion). Gasol still has not passed the necessary neurological tests since being elbowed in the head by Denver's JaVale McGee on Jan. 6 and will be re-examined by a neurologist on Wednesday. ... Milwaukee won the lone matchup between the two teams last season, 100-89, on Jan. 28, 2012, at Bradley Center despite a game-high 27 points by Bryant. ... Jennings became the third Milwaukee player this season to win Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, tying the Bucks for most in the NBA. ... Milwaukee leads the NBA in charges drawn, with Dunleavy (14) and Ersan Ilyasova (15) ranking in the top five, according to hoopdata.com. ... With the win, D'Antoni became the 42nd coach in NBA history with at least 400 victories.

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