The Los Angeles Lakers are in the second game of their four-game road trip. The Lakers started the trip in New Orleans where the Lakers faced the Pelicans and lost 105-88. Anthony Davis scored 41 points along with grabbing 16 rebounds and dishing out three assists. The Lakers didn’t seem to play with energy against a team they had already beaten this year, and unfortunately lost another starter to injury early on.
In the first quarter of the game, Nick Young landed awkwardly and strained his calf, which will hold him out for the next two to four weeks. The Lakers shot 42.5 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from behind the arc which is not ideal, but once again it’s the Lakers defense that must improve if they hope to turn things around.
The Lakers travel to Chicago to face the Bulls next. In their first meeting, the Bulls beat the Lakers at Staples Center 118-110 thanks to Jimmy Butler. He took over the game putting up 40 points, seven rebounds and six assists while the Bulls rested Dwayne Wade. Wade is averaging 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists and has adjusted his offensive game to fit the new NBA by shooting more threes than ever before (3.3 per game), and is hitting a respectable 38 percent. The Bulls are the second in the league in rebounding and eighth in opponents points per game.
With Nick Young injured, the Lakers are now down both of their starting guards. Young has been critical for the Lakers with his ability to score when the team seems to need it most and play good defense. There will need to be a collective effort by the Lakers to make up for the loss of Young’s production.
Lou Williams and Young have always been seen as similar players and now with Young’s injury, Williams will be asked to take on some of Young’s offensive burden. Williams has already been a big part of the Laker’s bench success and has shown that he can produce in the clutch, ranking among the league leaders in fourth quarter points.
Jordan Clarkson is another person that will need to step up in the absence of Young and D’Angelo Russell and would seem to be the obvious choice to move into the starting lineup. Clarkson will become the team’s primary defender and will spend time on both Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, two players that are capable of using their talents to take over the game.
Lastly, Brandon Ingram will need to step up against the Bulls. Ingram has been asked to bring the ball up this season and initiate the offense. Sometimes you can see him calculating the play in his head, showing that the Lakers need to give Ingram more minutes for him to develop. Ingram should see some time at shooting the guard as Walton will be forced to employ different lineups.
The Bulls will deploy their backcourt that consists of Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade. Rondo is not capable as he used to be but is still able to fill up the stat sheet. Last game against the Lakers Rondo had four points, nine rebounds and 12 assists. Rondo is averaging 7.7 points, 7.4 assists and 6.6 rebounds and can get a lot of people involved in the offense.
Wade surprised everyone this offseason and left the Miami Heat to join his hometown team. Wade showed his ability to adapt to improve the Bulls offense. Wade is coming off a game against the 76ers where he scored 26 points on 61.1% shooting. Wade still can play good defense down the stretch.
Off the bench, Isaiah Canaan had a big game in the first meeting between these teams with 17 points. He is the best shooter in the Bulls’ backcourt and the Lakers can not afford to allow him to have another huge night.
The Lakers will need to see production out of their big men if they want a chance against the Bulls. Julius Randle returned to the court yesterday after missing three games with an injured hip pointer. Against the Pelicans Randle was able to tally 12 points and ten rebounds by showing off his improved jump shot and being aggressive on the boards. Randle had trouble rebounding the ball against the Bulls in their last meeting only getting three rebounds; he will need to attack the boards and Chicago’s frontcourt if the Lakers want to win this game.
Plenty of pressure will shift to Luol Deng now that Nick Young is injured. He has been a huge disappointment so far, but will need to step up offensively as well as take on Jimmy Butler. Butler showed why he is an all-NBA talent in the last game against the Lakers, scoring on any defender the Lakers threw at him and getting to the free throw line at will.
The center matchup will be extremely important as Timofey Mozgov and Robin Lopez play similar roles for their teams. Whichever big can stay out of foul trouble, protect the rim, and control the boards will help their team immensely.
The Lakers will also need to keep an eye on Taj Gibson as he is a top flight defender and gets the Bulls plenty of extra chances with his work on the glass.
Each team also has an extremely important big off the bench in Larry Nance Jr. and Nikola Mirotic.
Nance had his best game of the season against the Bulls, picking up 18 points, six rebounds and three assists. He helps move the ball and does all the dirty work, like jumping for loose balls and taking charges.
Mirotic meanwhile, had 15 points and 15 rebounds in the first matchup. The Bulls can spread out the floor better when Mirotic is on the floor because of his shooting. He has been a key player in each of the Bulls’ victories so far this season so he will be one to keep in check.
Keys to victory:
Rebound the Basketball:
The Bulls are great rebounding team and can control the game with their glass work and playing defense. If the Bulls consistently hold the Lakers to one shot possessions and can pick up offensive rebounds this will be a long night for the Lakers.
Get Off To A Good Start:
The Lakers have a bad habit of getting off to bad starts and the bench would bail them out. Now thanks to injuries, that bench will likely have to be broken up at least somewhat meaning the Lakers really can’t afford to dig themselves too deep of a hole. A quick start tonight will give the team plenty of confidence.
Limit Role Players:
Jimmy Butler was obviously the best player in the first meeting, but it was the 17 points from Isaiah Canaan, and the double-doubles from Mirotic and Lopez that really hurt the Lakers. Star players are always difficult to limit, but the Lakers can’t let the other guys have career nights too.
Los Angeles Lakers (9-10) Vs. Chicago Bulls (10-6)
5:00 P.M. PST, November 30th, 2016
United Center, Chicago, Illinois
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Bulls Starting Lineup:
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Dwayne Wade
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Taj Gibson
C: Robin Lopez
Key Reserves: Nikola Mirotic, Isaiah Canaan, Bobby Portis, Denzel Valentine
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Jose Calderon
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, and Tarik Black