The Chicago Bulls are making their sole visit to Staples Center tonight to play the Los Angeles Lakers, and this is the first time Kobe Bryant will face Pau Gasol since his departure from the Lakers. The Bulls are one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and they will look to make a deep playoff push, while the Lakers are just trying to win a game.
Tonight is also a great test for the Lakers young backcourt tandem of D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson as they matchup with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler. Rose is a former MVP and Butler is on the rise to be one of the best guards in the NBA, so Russell and Clarkson can use this game as a measuring stick to see how much they have progressed this season. The Lakers are in the midst of a seven game losing streak, and are desperate for a win tonight.
Pau Gasol scored the first four points of the game, including a sweet post move over none other than Kobe Bryant. A few minutes later, Kobe ripped the ball from Pau and passed it aead to Anthony Brown for the fast break dunk. The Bulls shot an efficient 53 percent from the field and the Lakers trailed 8-16 midway through the first quarter. The Lakers struggled to score from the field and the Aaron Brooks made a three-pointer to give the Bulls an 11 point lead with 2:58 remaining in the first quarter. The Bulls pushed their lead up to 18 points after three layups in a span of 28 seconds by Jimmy Butler. Jordan Clarkson made a three-pointer, which was the first field goal for the Lakers in seven minutes, and at the end of the first quarter the Lakers trailed 15-32.
Russell started the quarter with a turnover, his third of the game, and Doug McDermott hit a three to push the Bulls’ lead to 20 points. Nick Young entered the game and scored five straight points, but the Lakers could not stop Derrick Rose on the defensive end. The Lakers turned the ball over for the ninth time in the first half, but somehow managed to cut their deficit down to 13 points with 6:42 remaining in the half. After Kobe’s three cut the Bulls lead to 12, Gasol scored on back-to-back set shots from the free throw line and the Lakers trailed 35-51. The Bulls were better than the Lakers in every statistical category and the Lakers were down big at the half, 40-58.
The Lakers came out of the locker room with tighter defensive rotations and on the offensive end Kobe made a three-pointer to cap off a 7-0 run. The Bulls responded with a run of their own and pushed their lead back up to 21 points with 7:19 left in the quarter. Jordan Clarkson made his best effort to keep the game within reach, as he hit a three-pointer to give him 16 points on the evening. However, the Bulls continued to have their way with the Lakers and Doug McDermott made two three-pointers to push the lead to 23 points. With the Lakers down big, Julius Randle had a monster third quarter, scoring 12 of his 14 points, but Byron Scott pulled him from the game as he was beginning to find a rhythm. After three the Lakers trailed 71-90.
Larry Nance Jr. began the third quarter with plenty of activity on the glass, grabbing two offensive boards on one possession and scoring the second chance points to cut the Lakers deficit to 13 points with 9:55 to go in the game. The Bulls potentially put the game away with Derrick Rose’s around the back pass in semi-transition, and midway through the fourth the Lakers were down 80-99. After the six-minute timeout the Lakers brought in Tarik Black, Marcelo Huertas and Ryan Kelly as Byron Scott emptied the bench. Kelly was able to knock down a couple of baskets, but it was all academic as the Lakers fell to the Bulls 114-91.