The Lakers start a five-game roadie and this is their last road trip of the season. I don’t want to say that this will make or break their campaign considering how absurd this entire season has been for the middle pack of the Western Conference. But of course, the Lakers don’t want to go 0-5 on this expedition.
Lakers get their rematch with the Bulls after a disappointing loss on Sunday. It’s not a true home-and-home for the Bulls; they actually lost to the Clippers the day after they defeated the Lakers. But make no mistake that the Bulls are still a dangerous team and should be hyped for their upcoming game against the Lakers at home.
Everything was coming up for the Lakers going into Sunday; where did it go wrong for them? Well, they turned the ball over a lot for one thing. Giving the Bulls 18 extra possessions (which converted to 34 points for Chicago) was probably not a great idea. They were throwing away what seemed like lazy passes and they were losing their handle on the ball (Bulls had 8 steals).
Zach LaVine was unstoppable as he put in 32 points. He’s actually scoring a lot better since the all-star break (his last 16 games have him scoring 28.9 points and shooting .446 from three). DeMar DeRozan had a good all-around game (17-6-10) and he even made rare back-to-back threes. And when Nikola Vucevic got ejected (which was nearly a gift for the Lakers), Andre Drummond admirably filled in with 12 points and 8 boards.
What also got the Lakers in trouble were their awful starts to quarters. The Bulls started out with a 9-0 burst in the second, 9-0 run in the third, and an 8-1 boost in the fourth. The Lakers were able to cut the deficit to single digits various times but if it wasn’t for the sluggish starts to those quarters, they wouldn’t have to erase double digit deficits. We’ve seen the Lakers have incredible comebacks but with every game so important, they can’t be in that sort of position every time.
LeBron James (who, by the way, is questionable for Wednesdsay) didn’t have the best game and I didn’t expect him to (19 points, 8 rebounds, 5 turnovers) since it was his first game back. If he does play Wednesday, I expect him to do a bit more playmaking as the Lakers had trouble keeping the ball on their side, especially with the Bulls’ great perimeter defense. D’Angelo Russell’s status is probable so he would be a huge help on setting the table. Anthony Davis only had 8 shots and it’s not like he was mobbed every time he got the ball. Davis has to be more aggressive than that.
Lakers also decided to give Lonnie Walker IV some run after his great performance against the Thunder. But much like most of the Lakers, he struggled defensively. This was where I thought Rui Hachimura, who provides length, would be a better fit against Chicago. That might be the case on Wednesday so we’ll see what Darvin Ham goes with.
Another big game for both the Lakers and the Bulls. L.A. is currently in 9th going into Wednesday but only hold a half-game lead over both #10 OKC and #11 Dallas (remember that the Mavs hold the tiebreaker against the Lakers). The Bulls are 10th in the East at 36-39. They have a safer cushion there as they are 2.5 games above the Washington Wizards.
So go get that win back, Lakers. And don’t let your ol’ friend, Patrick Beverley, one-up you again.