The Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls were the only game on the NBA schedule Tuesday, and they used the spotlight to play a sloppy but entertaining contest at Staples Center. After a close first quarter, the Bulls took advantage of Lakers’ turnovers to jump out to a 56-42 lead at halftime.
They were led by rookie Antonio Blakeney, who is on a two-way contract with the Bulls. He torched the Lakers early and often, which heading into the matchup was a challenge expected to be posed by Lauri Markkanen.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he spoke to his team about effort and reminded his team a 14-point deficit was hardly insurmountable. There was a delayed response to Walton’s message, as the Bulls’ lead grew to 19 points a few possessions into the third quarter.
But behind improved defense and a concerted effort to protect the ball, the Lakers slowly began chipping away at their deficit.
While Kyle Kuzma slowed after scoring 18 points in the first half — he finished the game with 22 — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle shouldered the load. Walton credited Josh Hart and Randle for providing a spark that the rest of the team responded to.
Caldwell-Pope scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back late 3-pointers, Ingram poured in 17 points, and Randle notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The 19-point comeback win marked the Lakers’ largest such victory this season, and put them on a modest two-game winning streak heading into Wednesday’s matchup against the Sacramento Kings.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW FORUM CLUB