Final - OT
  for this game

Lakers-Bucks Preview

Dec 16, 2009 - 5:20 AM By JEFF MEZYDLO STATS Senior Writer

Los Angeles (18-4) at Milwaukee (11-11), 8:00 p.m. EDT

A broken finger doesn't seem to be much of a hindrance for Kobe Bryant. Facing the Milwaukee Bucks hasn't really been a challenge for the Los Angeles Lakers star, either.

Coming off a season-high scoring effort, Bryant looks to continue his success against the Bucks on Wednesday night when the Western Conference-leading Lakers visit the Bradley Center.

Playing with a splint on the broken right index finger he suffered Friday against Minnesota, Bryant scored a season-high 42 points in Los Angeles' 96-87 win at Chicago on Tuesday. The victory was the 12th in 13 games for the Lakers (19-4), who bounced back after opening their five-game road swing with a 102-94 loss at Utah on Saturday.

"If I ask him how his finger is doing he is going to strangle me," Lakers forward Ron Artest said after Bryant recorded at least 40 points for the fifth time this season. "When he is hurt you are not allowed to ask him how he is doing or you're not allowed to ask are you OK. He gets very mad. He's a solider."

Plagued by both the injured finger and a stomach ailment, Bryant was held to a season-low 16 points while shooting 7 of 24 shooting against the Jazz. It didn't take long for him to regroup, going 15 of 26 from the field against the Bulls and scoring 20 points in the first quarter as the Lakers improved to 4-2 on the road.

"This is the most challenging one," Bryant said of his current injury. "I've played with sore ankles, broken knuckles and things like that. It's tough, it affects my follow through."

Bryant is averaging 28.4 points on the season and 29.7 in his last nine games against the Bucks. He had 30 and eight rebounds in the Lakers' 104-98 road win April 1 - the teams' most recent meeting and the Lakers' third straight win in the series.

Milwaukee, though, had won the previous two times it hosted Los Angeles at the Bradley Center.

While Bryant's star status is well established, the Bucks (11-11) have their own budding star thriving despite injury in rookie point guard Brandon Jennings.

Wearing a brace after hyperextending his knee, the 10th overall pick in the June draft had 18 points and 11 assists in Milwaukee's 108-101 double-overtime win over Portland on Saturday.

"It was important for us to get back to .500, so it was a big win for us," Jennings told the Bucks' official Web site.

The team leader in points (21.1 ppg) and assists (6.0), Jennings is a big reason Milwaukee is holding its own despite injuries to some key players.

Andrew Bogut had a season-high 27 points and Luke Ridnour added 20 off the bench as the Bucks won their second straight game to improve to 9-3 at the Bradley Center. The 7-foot Bogut is averaging 21.3 points and 10.3 boards in his last three games.

Milwaukee star Michael Redd had 11 points in 29 minutes Saturday - his first game after missing seven straight with a knee injury. Redd, who's played in just six games this season, is averaging 17.3 points versus Los Angeles in his career.