The Los Angeles Lakers erased a 19-point deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night, marking the largest comeback the team has had this season and a win that left head coach Luke Walton encouraged, if not beaming.
“Very proud. It’s a learning opportunity for the guys to be down  and realizing we don’t need hero shots. We just need to tighten up what we’re doing to get back in it,” Walton said following the 103-94 win.
The Lakers looked every bit as bad as their 28th-ranked offensive rating would suggest they are in a first half that saw them shoot 40.5 percent from the field and 27.8 percent on threes, while scoring only 42 points.
The larger issue was that the Lakers’ fourth-ranked defense that’s strangled opponents to just 100.3 points per 100 possessions, was nowhere to be found as the 30th-ranked Bulls offense racked up 56 points and shot 50 percent from three.
Included in the torrid production was two-way contract guard Antonio Blakeney torching the Lakers for 15 points in the first 24 minutes.
“I was shocked we were only down 14 at the half, to be honest,” Walton said. “I talked about the effort. Nothing matters without effort.” While not making an excuse for the Lakers falling into a deficit, he is understanding of the fact that a young team is prone to such a night.
“This is all part of the learning process. It’s not enough to just want to win. You’ve got to be locked in mentally,” Walton continued. “I think mentally, we stopped turning the ball over because it was time to step our game up to get back in it.”
How did the Lakers stepped up in the second half? By scoring 61 points without turning the ball over, all the while ratcheting up their defense to force the Bulls to cough up the ball seven times and shoot just 28.9 percent from the field.
“It’s awesome. It really is. This one obviously feels better, because we won this learning experience,” Walton said. “There’s positives and negatives about having to play so many young kids so many minutes. One of the positives is, everything is a learning experience.”
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