So this is why the Lakers were supposed to be title contenders, eh?

The Bucks may have entered Tuesday night's encounter with L.A. sporting a better record than Mike D'Antoni's bunch, but you wouldn't have guessed it from the superstar exhibition delivered by Kobe Bryant (31 pts, 12/19 fg) and Dwight Howard (31 pts, 14/18 fg, 16 rebs, 4 blks). The Bucks had no answers for the league's leading scorer and rebounder, and in that sense the biggest surprise about this game was how long it ended up taking L.A. to deliver its knockout a punch--a 21-7 run to start the fourth quarter that turned a six-point game into a 20-point laugher in seven minutes. Only the Lakers' awful bench could prevent L.A. from running away earlier, particularly with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis firing blanks most of the night (combined 10/30 fg, 5 ast, 5 to).

As per usual, the Bucks found themselves down by double digits just minutes into the game, only to ride their reserves back into it. This time it was Kobe setting the tone with alley-oops to Howard for the Lakers' first two buckets, a combination that would quickly become a recurring theme of the first half. Jim Boylan even went so far as to trot out Marquis Daniels and Sam Dalembert to defend L.A.'s two superstars--a reasonable use of his deep bench I'd say--but the Bucks found few answers as Bryant and Howard combined for 32 points on 14/17 shooting in the first two quarters.