It was a brutal way to end the road trip for the Los Angeles Lakers as they came up just short against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.
The Bulls –like the Lakers– have struggled with players being available due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but they got the lift they needed when DeMar DeRozan made his return and closed out the game in spectacular fashion. DeRozan scored 19 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter and nailed a clutch jumper over LeBron James to send L.A home with the loss.
The Lakers are extremely short-handed with Anthony Davis out for at least a month with an MCL sprain and several players still in protocols. The team was dealt another blow when they announced Kent Bazemore and head coach Frank Vogel were the latest members of the organization to be placed into protocols, which forced lead assistant coach David Fizdale to man the sidelines against the Bulls.
Even though Los Angeles could not come up with the victory, Fizdale was proud of the effort and energy they showed throughout the night.
“We came into it understanding these are not normal circumstances and everyone wrapped their mind around that coming into the game. We had a backup coach, we had a couple G League guys out there for us, but the thing about this team’s character is it’s a next man up mentality and they really brought the effort and a collective team energy,” Fizdale said after the game.
It was good to see the Lakers play with so much force on both ends of the floor, but DeRozan was the difference-maker throughout the evening. Defensively, L.A. had zero answers for the guard and Fizdale explained that their lack of defensive rebounding negated anything they tried.
“We tried to trap him to get the ball out of his hands for a while and he did a good job of getting off of it to Vucevic, created some situations there. Last two minutes we ended up bringing our defensive lineup and we did some switching. In both groups what really hurt us was the offensive rebounding. Not coming up with a defensive rebound when we needed it was really killer.”
Surprisingly enough, the Lakers actually won the overall rebounding battle 46-43 but did give up seven more offensive rebounds to the Bulls. Several of those came late in the fourth quarter which allowed Chicago to use up the clock and put Los Angeles in an even worse position.
As of right now, the Purple and Gold are going to be stuck trying to adjust on the fly as players shuffle in and out of the lineup. However, their next game against the Phoenix Suns could get ugly given how many rotation guys are expected to be out.
Fizdale believes rebounding comes down to boxing out
As far has how the Lakers can be better on the defensive glass, Fizdale believes it comes down to doing to simple things players are taught at a young age.
“We got to box out,” he said. “I still got the visuals in my mind, just too many times a shot goes up and we just stand and turn and watch. And we got to go find bodies, especially when we got our small-ball group out there. They cannot spectate, Bron and Melo a lot of times are wrestling with those big guys and those smalls got to come back in and clean up some of those long rebounds and some of those rebounds around the elbow, free-throw area where you saw a lot of those tip outs ended up locating.
“So that’s something that we can remedy, that’s something that you can correct, that’s a controllable thing as Coach Frank always says. So we’re gonna keep showing them and keep this idea of holding teams to one shot and giving ourselves a great chance to get out and run.”
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