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Lakers Battle Bucks In Opener Of Three-Game Road Trip

Five days ago, the Los Angeles Lakers were on top of the basketball world, one of two undefeated teams in the NBA. Two games and two losses later, the Lakers find themselves in their version of relative chaos as they embark on a three-game road trip in the midwest. The Lakers head to the Bradley Center tonight to battle the Milwaukee Bucks, winners of their last three games.

The front line of the Lakers, already without center Andrew Bynum, got a little thinner on Monday. Both Lamar Odom and Theo Ratliff had MRIs yesterday, and Ratliff will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, per ESPN. Ratliff did not travel with Lakers on their road trip. The news was better for Odom, who was diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right foot. Odom, who is fifth in the league averaging 10.9 rebounds per game this season, is expected to play tonight.

The Lakers have beaten the Bucks five straight times, and have won 24 of their last 29 games against Milwaukee. The Bucks are 19th in the NBA in three-point shooting, at 34.7%, lest the Lakers are gun shy after allowing the Phoenix Suns to make 22 of 40 three-pointers in their loss on Sunday night. Tonight's game will be a contrast in styles, as the Lakers lead the league in offensive rating, averaging 116.7 points per 100 possessions. The Bucks are 29th out of 30 NBA teams, averaging 99.8 points per 100 possessions. The Bucks are the league's top defensive squad, allowing a league-low 96.9 points per 100 possessions. The Lakers are in the middle of the pack defensively, a clear effect of missing Bynum, allowing 107.5 points per 100 possessions.

The Lakers are 2-1 on the road this season. Tonight is the first game of a three-game road trip that will also see the Lakers travel to Detroit and Minnesota. Milwaukee is 3-2 at home this season.

For more Lakers news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Silver Screen and Roll.