MILWAUKEE -- As far as Michael Redd is concerned, playing for the U.S. national team has fringe benefits beyond the honor of wearing red, white and blue.
Redd said going head-to-head with Kobe Bryant during USA Basketball practices over the summer made him a better player, and Redd proved it in the Milwaukee Bucks' 110-103 victory against Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
"In order to be one of the premier guards in this league, you've got to be able to defend," Redd said. "He's done it for many years, and I'm trying to do the same thing now."
Bryant joked that maybe he shared too many helpful hints.
"I think I worked with him a little too much on those defensive drills in the summer time," Bryant said.
Redd finished the game with 26 points to Bryant's 27. But Redd's solid effort defending Bryant paid off in the end, as he and the Bucks held the Lakers star to six points on 1-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter.
That -- along with their current four-game winning streak -- provided more evidence that the Bucks are buying into the defense-first philosophy of Larry Krystkowiak, who is in his first full season as the Bucks' head coach.
Krystkowiak challenged the team to improve its suspect defense -- star scorer Redd included -- after taking over for Terry Stotts near the end of last season.
Redd showed on Wednesday that he took it to heart.
"Mike made him work for a lot of those points," Krystkowiak said.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Redd got Bryant "a little distracted" on the floor. Bryant also was called for a technical foul in the third quarter.
"He didn't play as much of a team game as I'd like to have seen him play," Jackson said of Bryant. "It was a good head (to) head battle for the two players and it came out pretty even."
Redd said he gave Bryant a taste of his own medicine.
"Do what he does against me -- pressure me, hold me, do whatever you've got to do," Redd said.
But Bucks teammate Mo Williams joked that there's no magic formula to defending Bryant.
"Just stand in front of him the best way you can, and hope he misses," Williams, who added 18 for Milwaukee. "Pretty simple."
Bryant finished 7-for-18 from the floor, but seemed more bothered by the Lakers' poor defense afterward.
"Sometimes you just miss them," Bryant said. "You stay with it, you stay aggressive. We all pretty much shot the ball like (garbage). We had control of the game throughout except the fourth quarter, and it was an uphill battle from that point."
After a slow start, Bryant scored 15 points in the third, ending the quarter with a 3-pointer and two free throws to give the Lakers an 80-75 lead going into the final period.
Milwaukee opened the fourth quarter with a 13-3 run, taking an 88-83 lead on Redd's layup with 6:48 remaining.
The Bucks then stamped out a potential Lakers rally with good outside shooting down the stretch, getting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions from Bobby Simmons and Charlie Villanueva, and a jumper by Williams to go up 101-93 lead with 2:43 left.
The Lakers pulled to within four on a pair of free throws by Luke Walton that cut the Bucks' lead to 103-99 with 36 seconds left. After Villanueva hit two free throws, Bryant missed a 3-pointer.
Bryant's dunk with 12 seconds left was his only field goal of the fourth quarter.
"You anticipate the best from him," Redd said. "He respects me, and any time you can get the best out of somebody, that says a lot about yourself. He played hard tonight."
It was the second in a series of three major tests for Milwaukee's defense this week. The Bucks beat Cleveland on Tuesday despite 34 points from LeBron James. They'll have to defend the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki on Saturday.
"Your hands are full, but that's what this league is made of -- terrific players," Redd said.
Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut, who was coming off back-to-back double-doubles, was held to 13 points and four rebounds after getting into early foul trouble and fouling out in the fourth. Rookie Yi Jianlian added 12 points for Milwaukee.
Andrew Bynum added 16 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers' four-game winning streak came to an end.
- The Bucks honored Lakers assistant Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at halftime, rededicating the banner with his retired jersey No. 33.
- At Krystkowiak's request, the Bucks eliminated a fireworks display from their pregame player introductions. Krystkowiak was concerned that players could slip on powder left on the floor after the fireworks exploded.