Pre-Game Report: Lakers vs. Bulls

Bulls Projected Starting Line-up

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol (16) goes up for a shot as Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (R) defends during the first half at the United Center in Chicago on March 21, 2009. (UPI Photo/David Banks) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

PG: Derrick Rose
SG: Keith Bogans
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Carlos Boozer
C: Joakim Noah

Key Reserves: Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver

After a thrilling win at home, the Lakers begin an arduous seven game road trip in Chicago where they will face off against one of the best in the east.

Frontcourt: The Bulls have one of the best rebounding frontlines in the NBA who soundly out-rebounded the Lakers in their last meet-up 46-38. Boozer is back and has provided the Bulls with an offensive lift. Noah has been a beast on the boards and is gobbling up 12.3 rebounds per game. Gibson played starter minutes while Boozer was injured and is a solid sub off the bench. Gasol and Odom will certainly have their hands full with the Bulls’ bigmen.

Backcourt: Rose is having a career year: 25.1 points, 8.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.5 treys. Since adding a three point shot to his arsenal, he’s become that much harder to defend because he can go around you for the dunk, or step back and pop the three. He threw down an absolutely disgusting fully-extended-two-handed-monster against the Knicks. Deng has been the iron man for the Bulls, leading the team in minutes per game. Watch for the crazy bloodlust glare that he flashes after making a big play – it’s the same face he has on after getting dunked on. Bogans starts for his defensive abilities, but Brewer and Korver play more minutes. Brewer and Korver could probably start for most other NBA teams and are a solid duo off the pinewood.

Keys to Laker Victory:
The Lakers won the last match-up against a Boozer-less Bulls squad. With Boozer back in the line-up, the Bulls are a stronger rebounding squad and deadlier offensive team. The Laker frontline will need to step their game up. Which begs the question: what the hell is up with Gasol’s offense lately? In the past six games he’s shooting a dismal 38.6% – that simply won’t get it done. Maybe his 39 minutes per game are starting to wear on him. No one should be more thrilled for Bynum’s return than Pau.

Can the Lakers stop Rose? They sure didn’t last game, but they still won, so maybe that won’t matter. But with the aforementioned offensive prowess of Boozer, the Lakers will need to do a better job of limiting Rose tonight. I’d like to see Phil put Kobe on Rose. Bogans isn’t an offensive threat in the least bit, so it’d be a shame to let an all NBA defensive first teamer go to waste.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: this will be a tough game for the Lakers. If Gasol doesn’t find his offense and nobody shuts down Rose – this is going to be a long winter night in Chi-city.

Laker Injuries: Andrew Bynum – expected back on Dec. 14th, Theo Ratliff

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