LAKERS RAISE THEIR OWN EXPECTATIONS.
Byline: Howard Beck Staff Writer
MILWAUKEE - First the Lakers raised eyebrows with an impressive winning streak Noun 1. winning streak - a streak of wins
streak, run - an unbroken series of events; "had a streak of bad luck"; "Nicklaus had a run of birdies" . Now they've raised their own expectations, too.
Their 15-game string will be severely tested with a tough three-game road trip that opens tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks The Milwaukee Bucks are a professional basketball team based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The current franchise owner is U.S. Senator Herb Kohl. , then concludes with back-to-back games at Indiana and Minnesota. But the Lakers no longer view such challenges in traditional terms.
``I think that going on a road trip, I'd normally say to win two out of three would be our expectation,'' said coach Phil Jackson
Philip Douglas "Phil" Jackson (born September 17, 1945 in Deer Lodge, Montana) is the current coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, an American professional basketball team. , ``but at this level we're playing, we'd like to win all three of them. And we're going into every game thinking we're going to do it.''
Gettimg to 18 won't be easy.
The Bucks, who are 12-5 at home, feature an offensive trio that nearly rivals that of the Lakers. Milwaukee's Glenn Robinson Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson (born January 10 1973 in Gary, Indiana) is an American professional basketball player in the NBA who last played during the 2004-05 NBA season. , Ray Allen Not to be confused with Ray Alan or Allan Ray.
Walter Ray Allen (born July 20, 1975) is an American professional basketball player for the NBA's Boston Celtics, for whom he plays shooting guard. He has also played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle SuperSonics. and Sam Cassell Samuel (Sam) James Cassell (born November 18, 1969 in Baltimore, Maryland) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays point guard for the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers. average a combined 62 points per game, and the Bucks just dismantled the Charlotte Hornets Charlotte Hornets may refer to one of several sports teams in the history of Charlotte, North Carolina:
Indiana, despite recent struggles, leads the Eastern Conference with a 22-11 record and is 13-2 at home. The Timberwolves have shaken off an early slump and had won five straight through Monday.
``It's going to be tough for us,'' said Glen Rice Glen Anthony Rice (born May 28 1967, in Flint where he played for Flint Northwestern High School, Michigan) is a retired American NBA basketball player. Rice was a three-time NBA All-Star small forward well known for his pinpoint shooting accuracy, ranking 4th in NBA history with , but he was in line with Jackson's expectation of a three-game sweep - ``I think he's absolutely right about that.''
``We have a very good chance of doing that if we go out and play up to our capabilities.''
And what about an 18-game winning streak? ``Let's take it one game at a time. When we get to 18,'' Rice said with a smile, ``I'll rap to you about it.''
--UNGLOVED: Kobe Bryant Kobe Bean Bryant (born July 23 1978 has made 23 of his last 36 shots - a stunning 63.9 percent clip - including 9 of his last 13 from 3-point range. His jumper has become almost as deadly as his dribble drive, and it's no coincidence the surge comes after Bryant ditched the padded glove that protected his right hand. ) is an American All-Star shooting guard in the National Basketball Association (NBA) who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.
``I can feel the ball a lot better,'' said Bryant, who tossed the glove aside last week. ``My release is a lot better. It's fundamentally correct.
``And plus, people have been playing off me, been giving me the (open) jumpshot. I find that to be very challenging. So if they're going to play off me, I'm just going to continue to shoot them.''
And make them. Bryant, who wore the glove through his first 16 games after recovering from a broken hand, was 6 for 25 on 3-pointers before the recent two-game surge. Now he's added another dimension.
``I'll tell you what, that's going to make him even more dangerous,'' said Rice. ``When he's popping that 3 like that and guys gotta get up on him, that's when he's going to throw the dribble drive on them and that's scary.''
LAKERS vs. BUCKS
--Tipoff: 5 p.m., Bradley Center
Current arenas in the National Basketball Association
Western Conference Eastern Conference .
--TV/Radio: KCAL-Channel 9 (6 p.m., tape delay); KLAC-AM (570).
LAKERS (30-5) UPDATE: A win tonight would be their 16th straight, matching the second longest streak in franchise history (1990-91). The Lakers hold a seven-game winning streak over the Bucks, though the teams haven't met since the 1997-98 season.
BUCKS (20-15) UPDATE: Under George Karl, they've become an offensive juggernaut - third in the league in scoring (103 points per game) and field-goal percentage (,469). But the Bucks rank 25th in points allowed (102.3) and like a typical Karl team, 28th in rebounding (40.6 per game).
- Howard Beck
Box: LAKERS vs. BUCKS (see text)