With their five-game winning streak on the line, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers managed to come from behind and rally to beat the Chicago Bulls, 118-112.
The Lakers appeared to take their opponent lightly as they once again came out of the gate sloppy, coughing up the ball several times while also playing with a general lack of urgency and sharpness. Their poor play saw them go down as much as 19 points before Los Angeles finally decided to flip the switch and go on a late-game run.
Los Angeles was down 13 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but the bench quickly erased the Chicago lead and ultimately secured the win for what looked to be an embarrassing loss.
Head coach Frank Vogel detailed why he stuck with the bench unit to begin the fourth quarter and praised them for their effort, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Well, they had a strong finish to the third quarter. I think that unit… that five-man unit that was in there… Quinn, Alex, and Troy, Kuz and Dwight… they deserve the game ball, obviously. They turned the game around with that big run in the fourth. JaVale had some strong minutes toward the end of the third that was also a factor in helping us get a little momentum and obviously our big guns took us home.
But AD was in foul trouble, Bron was exhausted. Both those guys needed to stay on the bench and other guys needed to step up and they did, so it was a great team win for us.
The Laker bench up to this point has largely struggled to score the ball without James or Anthony Davis in the lineup, so it was a welcomed surprise to see them go on a run without the All-Star duo on the floor. Both Kyle Kuzma and Quinn Cook had season-highs in points while Dwight Howard continued his resurgence on the defense end.
Kuzma’s scoring flurry in the fourth quarter was encouraging to see in particular as he has struggled to find any rhythm offensively since returning from injury. His ability to go and get a bucket is largely valuable on a team full of finishers and theoretically allows Vogel to rest Davis and James for longer stretches during games.
If the bench manages to produce nights like this more frequently, then the purple and gold will easily become one of the most difficult teams to beat on a nightly basis.
Hopefully, this is the start of a trend rather than a one-time outburst.