The Los Angeles Lakers welcomed LeBron James back to the lineup on Sunday afternoon when they hosted the Chicago Bulls looking for their fourth straight win.
Unfortunately though, the Lakers’ effort as a whole was lackluster and they wound up suffering a 118-108 defeat.
With James being on a minutes restriction, he actually came off the bench for just the second time in his career. Troy Brown Jr. got the start in his place and drilled a 3-pointer to begin the game.
After a 4-0 start for the Lakers though, the Bulls answered with seven straight points, capped off by an Alex Caruso triple to take the early advantage.
James checked in for the first time with the Lakers leading 12-9 after a three-point play by Anthony Davis. As could be expected, LeBron looked a little rusty to start with a turnover on his first possession. He eventually found a cutting Austin Reaves for an easy bucket though and then his first shot was a layup of his own.
Meanwhile, for the Bulls, Zach LaVine had it going early with eight first-quarter points. Coby White also made back-to-back 3s and then a floater near the end of the quarter, giving Chicago a 29-26 lead going into the second.
The Bulls scored nine straight to take their first double-digit lead early in the second before Reaves scored to end L.A.’s drought. Reaves carried the Lakers for a bit, earning a three-point play and then making a triple, but the Lakers were unable to make much of a dent as Ayo Dosunmu also got hot from deep to stretch the Bulls’ lead to 15.
The Lakers defense as a whole was nonexistent in the second quarter, and it didn’t help that they were turning the ball over offensively either. LaVine hit another 3 to put Chicago’s lead at 20 before Dennis Schroder responded with one of his own.
It was a nice response by the Lakers from there though as Brown led an 8-0 to get back within striking distance. Nikola Vucevic was then ejected after being assess two technicals for arguing a foul call on James. A strong close to the half by the Lakers sent them into the locker room trailing by eight at 63-55.
All the momentum the Lakers had was wiped away when they came out flat in the third quarter. Patrick Beverley started the half with five straight points and before the Lakers knew it, their deficit was back at 20.
After a quiet first half, Davis finally got going offensive for the Lakers to get his team within 13 at the end of the third quarter. The only problem was that he picked up his fifth foul so was sent to the bench for extended time.
The Bulls went on another run to begin the fourth with DeMar DeRozan scoring eight straight to get his team’s lead back to 20, forcing a Lakers timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Lakers needed to make a run or else the game would be over. They responded with seven straight points, forcing a Bulls timeout this time.
Similar to the Lakers, that timeout did the trick for the Bulls as they scored eight straight points to effectively put the game out of reach for good. L.A. fought until the end and got within eight, but their deficit was just too much to overcome.
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