The Lakers took a slim lead into the fourth quarter, but steadily increased it through the final minutes with a 23-7 run. Bryant dipped into his usual array of acrobatic shots while also setting up Howard for points in the paint, and the five-time NBA champion left to a standing ovation with 3:07 left in his 22nd consecutive game with at least 20 points.
"Kobe changed the complexion of the game with his pressure in the backcourt," Boylan said. "They knocked us off balance early, and we fought back. ... We missed a lot of shots, but mainly because of their pressure. They played a really good defensive game."
Jennings was the Eastern Conference's player of the week for averaging 24.5 points in the last four games under Boylan's leadership, but Bryant held him to two points in the first half. Jennings got going with a four-point play early in the third quarter, but never managed consistent production against Bryant and his teammates.
The Lakers' starters clicked on offense early, building a 12-point lead in the first quarter with dominant play down low from Howard. Ellis kept the Bucks close with a first-half scoring spree against the Lakers' reserves.
NOTES: Lakers G Steve Blake has pain in a muscle in his inner thigh, further delaying his return from abdominal surgery. The veteran point guard has played in just five games this season, sitting out since Nov. 11. ... The Lakers passed the midway point of their home schedule with a 12-9 record at Staples Center. ... Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and former Lakers and Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy attended the game. Mike Dunleavy Jr. had 10 points for the Bucks.
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