The Bulls came into Los Angeles to face the Lakers again without Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton, Taj Gibson, and of course, Derrick Rose. The Lakers, suddenly one of the hottest teams in the league, are in a battle to make the playoffs which a few months ago figured to be a far-fetched dream. But behind the play of Kobe Bryant, who had 40 points and 10 assists in back to back games, that dream is slowly becoming a reality.
Back to today’s game, both teams came out terribly in the first quarter. The Bulls couldn’t get a shot, nevertheless make one, while the Lakers could get a shot at ease, just couldn’t convert them. The big story of this quarter was Luol Deng on Kobe Bryant. Kobe couldn’t get anything, and ended the quarter scoreless, a rarity for Bryant. But of course, Bryant found some way to influence the game, facilitating wonderfully for his teammates, especially Metta World Peace. Much to Kobe’s dismay, World Peace finished the quarter 0-4 from behind the arc, all wide open off passes from Bryant. This was just an ugly quarter for the Bulls, with nobody scoring over four points. Dwight Howard dominated Joakim Noah on the glass and finished the quarter with 6 points and 7 rebounds in a 20-16 lead for the Lakers.
To the second quarter, Marco Belineli and Nazr Mohammed ran the first half of the quarter. This obviously couldn’t keep up forever, and like it or not, it became Nate Rob time. Robinson came in and buried a corner three, followed by a sweet floater right over the fingertips of Dwight Howard as he drew the foul. The Lakers held the lead for the quarter, though it was never too big. At halftime, the Bulls found themselves still down, 40-44 in an ugly offensive game for both teams. Robinson was leading the way with 13 points and 5 assists.
Starting the second half, Steve Nash came out for the Lakers on fire, with 7 points in the first three minutes. It was all Lakers for this quarter, with the Bulls going scoreless for 4 and a half minutes in the middle of the quarter. But just when you thought it was all over, the Bulls pull an 8-0 run to cut the lead to ten with 2 minutes left as Jeff Van Gundy went on to roast Bulls management for letting Omer Asik walk in free agency. Besides the little run the Bulls went on, this was an awful quarter in which they shot 29% from the field. Joakim Noah was the only bright spot in the quarter, finally starting to hit the boards hard. The third quarter ended at a score of 61-73, Lakers on top.
The fourth quarter was hard to watch for Bulls fans. The Lakers came out and scored six straight, essentially ruling out any chance of a comeback for the Bulls. Down by double digits the whole quarter, the Thibodeau-coached Bulls didn’t stop playing. And of course, the starters played the whole game, even when the game was out of reach. The final score was 81-90, with the Lakers winning their fifth game in the last six while the Bulls lost their third in the last four.
The big story of this game was rebounding. The Bulls, always at the top of the league in rebounding, got demolished on the boards, especially by Howard, who finished with 21 rebounds. The final tally of 46-50 does not tell the story of how the game really went, as the Bulls got plenty of rebounds in garbage time. At halftime, the Lakers had the advantage on the glass of 29-18.
The other reason for this loss was, as it has been all season, not being able to score the basketball. The Bulls shot 33-89 (37.1%) in a game to forget as quickly as possible for Bulls fans.
The only good thing that can be taken today is that the Bulls don’t play again until Wednesday at Sacramento. The three day break could give a certain someone a little bit of recovery time for his hamstrings, which I’m sure will only add fuel to the fire as the Bulls wait for their savior, Derrick Rose, to return.