for this game

Lakers down Bucks for fifth-straight win

Jan 12, 2008 - 7:29 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant scored 37 points and had seven assists and Andrew Bynum finished with 25 points as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 110-105, on Friday night for their season-high fifth straight victory.

Luke Walton scored 10 points and Lamar Odom contributed eight and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who have now won 15 of their last 18 contests. The team hasn't won five in a row since March 16-25 of last season.

Bryant, who was suffering from a viral upper respiratory infection, shook off fatigue as he hit five 3-pointers and finished a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line to carry his squad.

"Especially early on in the ballgame, just trying to find a rhythm," Bryant said of his ailment affecting his performance. "I was feeling really weak, but I was able to kind of muscle through it a little bit."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson was confident his star would be up for the challenge.

"He's had a situation like that in Sacramento too, once when we were in the playoffs," Jackson said. "He's played through this type of thing before."

This game wasn't quite as easy in the early going for the Lakers, who have been dominate in victory of late, beating their opponents by an average of 23.0 points during the win streak.

However, Los Angeles asserted its authority in the fourth quarter after Milwaukee hung tough through three.

"It was super important to win the ugly game tonight because we've lost to them three out of four," Bynum said. "We definitely had to come out and get this one and we did, so it's over."

The Lakers opened their biggest lead of the game, 74-61, on a pair of free throws by Odom with 4:35 remaining in the third. But the Bucks closed out the quarter on a 13-4 run to get within four points to open the fourth.

"We played well, just a few breakdowns," Bucks guard Mo Williams said. "I think there was a breaking point where we were down four points and then it went to 10 and they blew it open from there."

Los Angeles would quickly regain momentum, using a 14-4 spurt on Bynum's finish near the basket for a 14-point cushion.

Williams scored 28 points and Michael Redd had 22 for Milwaukee, which had won three consecutive games entering Friday's contest, got as close as 49-48 on a Williams' free throw late in the second quarter.

Bryant, who didn't hit a basket in the first eight minutes of the game, finished with 16 points in the first quarter, including a stretch of three straight 3-pointers to help the Lakers to an early nine-point advantage.

"I started getting in a good rhythm and I felt like it gave us a good cushion," Bryant said. "Up until that point we seemed to be a little flat, and once those threes start falling we had a (nine)-point lead and that gave us a boost that we needed."

The Bucks, meanwhile, will look to put the loss behind them during the remaining two games of their road trip.

"We are not happy, we wanted to win this game," Williams said. "We came in with the mindset of winning and we didn't win, so no, we're not happy."

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