The Los Angeles Lakers flew north to the Windy City for a heavyweight match-up against the Chicago Bulls. This was the Lakers’ second game on their road trip, and also their second meeting with the Bulls. The Lakers prevailed in the first game, but this time the Bulls had home-court advantage and a healthy Carlos Boozer.
Coach Phil Jackson made his return to Chicago—the place where he had won six titles with Michael Jordan during the 1990s. The Lakers were looking to win their fourth straight game, and a perfect record on their road-trip.
Whenever the Lakers visit a major east coast city, the entire arena is amped up for the game. The fans are excited to see the defending champions, and the players are pumped up to go against the Lakers.
Despite the hostile crowd, the Lakers opened up the game strong and they were playing a well balanced offense. The Lakers were knocking down their shots, but they were also forcing the Bulls to take tough contested jumpers on nearly every possession. With 7:30 left in the first, the Lakers opened up a 12-4 lead after going on a 10-0 run.
The Lakers continued to pound the Bulls, and they were getting into the paint at will. The Lakers did not settle for long jump-shots, but instead they made it a priority to get to the bucket. The opening period concluded with the Lakers leading by 10, 22-12. The Lakers were shooting 46% from the field, while they held the Bulls to a dismal 25% shooting. At the end of the first, Pau Gasol was leading all scorers with 10 points.
For an extra surge of energy and a faster tempo, Phil Jackson started the second period with the “Killer Bs” on the floor.
The Lakers continued their stellar play, and they were in total control of the game. The Bulls’ offense was stagnant and their defense stood now chance to the Lakers’ firepower. Halfway into the second quarter the Lakers were leading 27-17, and they held the Bulls to 7-for-30 shooting.
However, the Bulls began to hit their shot in the latter half of the second period. Derrick Rose took the team on his shoulder, and he was the catalyst for their late surge. Momentum quickly shifted towards the Bulls, and they eventually took the lead with under two minutes to play.
The Bulls erased a double-digit defect and turned it into a four point lead, they entered the locker-room up 36-32. The Bulls went on a 19-3 run, and finished the half shooting 35% from the field. As for the Lakers, they shot 38% from the field and Gasol led the team in scoring with 12.
The Bulls came out of the locker-room with high energy and a sense of focus—something that was absent when the game started. The Bulls and Lakers battled back and forth, and they traded the lead for the first few minutes of the third.
With 5:33 left in the quarter the Lakers regained the lead, 44-43. Kobe was beginning to find his groove on the offense end, and he was taking over the scoring load for the Lakers. At first it seemed as though the Lakers would blow-out the Bulls, but their debacle in the second quarter allowed the Bulls to climb back into the game. Entering the final period, the Lakers found themselves down by eight points, 66-58.
Kobe Bryant was sitting on the bench to start the fourth quarter, in order to prepare himself for a nail-biting finish. The reserves did not help the Lakers in the fourth, and they were unable to make a dent in the double-digit lead.
With about eight minutes left in the game Kobe was subbed back in and he made an immediate impact; Bryant knocked down a three-point shot cut the lead down to five, 70-65.
The game was coming down to the wire and with 2:12 left to play, the Lakers were down by six, 81-75. The Friday night showdown concluded with the Bulls winning by four points, 88-84. The Lakers shot 44% from the field, while the Bulls shot 41 %.
The Lakers’ leading scorer was Kobe Bryant with 23, and the team now stands at 16-7.