LOS ANGELES — Earl Boykins scored a season-high 22 points, John Salmons added 20 and the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks stunned the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, snapping the two-time defending champions’ five-game winning streak with a 98-79 victory.
Kobe Bryant scored 21 points and Pau Gasol added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who belly-flopped in their final tuneup before a Christmas visit from the Miami Heat.
Ersan Ilyasova had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, who had lost three straight and were down to nine healthy players against the Lakers, who had beaten them six straight times.
Yet with sturdy defense that held the Lakers to their franchise-low in points against the Bucks, Milwaukee jumped ahead early and finished the game on a 21-7 run, holding the Lakers scoreless for nearly four minutes down the stretch.
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Perhaps thinking ahead to their holiday visit from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Lakers were largely lifeless in their return from an impressive seven-game road trip, losing at Staples Center for just the third time in 13 games.
Andrew Bogut scored 15 points for the Bucks, who largely controlled the game despite missing injured regulars Brandon Jennings, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden on the second stop of a three-game road trip.
Perhaps the most improbable contributions were from the 5-foot-5 Boykins, who hit four 3-pointers — including a rub-it-in basket with 21⁄2 minutes left — as an unlikely substitute for Jennings, the Bucks’ leading scorer.
The Lakers openly worried about overlooking the Bucks in their return from the road, speaking specifically about the possibility during the pregame shootaround. Milwaukee scored 107 points in an 11-point home loss to the Lakers on Nov. 16, causing matchup problems for the champions.
Yet from the opening tip at Staples Center, the Bucks appeared more motivated and better prepared. Milwaukee made seven of its first eight shots and rarely trailed during the first three quarters, hitting open jumpers and getting a proficient inside performance by Bogut, who won most of his clashes with Gasol in the low post.
When Salmons rattled home a 17-foot jumper that barely beat the third-quarter buzzer to put the celebrating Bucks ahead 72-66, the Lakers’ crowd was nearly silent.