Completely lacking energy and effort, and trailing by 18 points after a first quarter, Tuesday’s game against the Chicago Bulls looked to be going the way of the last few contests for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Then LeBron James took over, and the team got hot to finally end a season-worst five-game losing streak. James finished with 36 points and 10 rebounds, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 24 points, largely behind four 3-pointers, and the Lakers pulled away for a 123-107 victory.
The Lakers trailed by as many as 20 points early in the second quarter before completely turning things around. They outscored the Bulls by a total of 32 points in the second and third periods, and ended the third on a 24-3 run to head into the final quarter with a double-digit lead of their own.
That was short-lived as a Bulls 8-0 run to start the fourth quickly made things close, but James made sure there wouldn’t be another comeback.
He went on an absolute tear, knocking down a big 3-pointer followed by a ferocious blow-by slam dunk. Three Caldwell-Pope free throws and a three from Kyle Kuzma were then followed by a James steal and off-the-backboard alley-oop from Josh Hart.
James not only threw down an emphatic dunk, he capped it off with a shimmy for the crowd.
Kuzma had a solid showing in his return to game action after missing the previous two, finishing with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists. The Lakers also got double-doubles from both JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo.
The game also marked the return of Andre Ingram, who made waves last season with his inspiring performance. The Lakers signed Ingram to a 10-day contract, but this game didn’t go the same way as his NBA debut as he went scoreless in just two minutes of action.
The Bulls had five players score in double-figures, led by 20 points from Robin Lopez while Otto Porter added 19 and Kris Dunn finished with 18.