Lakers lose to Bulls to close out home stand

The Lakers' win streak stops at three games.

Disappointing, to say the least.

It felt like everything was coming up for the Lakers. Los Angeles had won three in a row. Dallas had just lost earlier in the day. LeBron James made an unexpected return on Sunday afternoon for an even bigger boost; he would come off the bench for the first time in 15 years and change.

It didn’t matter. Chicago had more of a sense of urgency. And they plastered the Lakers at their home floor, 118-108.

It all started going downhill from the second quarter when Chicago scored the first 9 points of that period. Coby White sniped from the outside. Andre Drummond dominated the paint. Ayo Dosunmu provided bonus points. The Bulls went up by 20.

The Lakers did get some momentum at the end of the half. Troy Brown, Jr. kept the Lakers afloat with his shooting. Nikola Vucevic got tossed after complaining for a foul. LeBron’s late push got the deficit down to 63-55 by the break.

Unfortunately, the third quarter Lakers appeared again. Bulls got off to another 9-0 start in the period to boost the lead back to 17. Chicago went up by 21 before the Lakers attempted another rally. They did get it down to 13 going into the fourth quarter.

But DeMar DeRozan scored 8 straight points, including rare back-to-back threes. Bulls got the lead back up to 21 again. The Lakers continued to hang around as Malik Beasley belatedly joined the party with a couple of three-pointers. It was within reach at 113-105 with a minute and a half left. But ol’ friend Patrick Beverley made a hook shot over LeBron James to pretty much seal the deal. PatBev even did his familiar “too small” taunt and it was really a fitting end to this miserable experience for the Lakers.

“The Patrick Beverley story starring Kevin Hart!” You’re too much, Stacey King (Bulls commentator).

This was the worrying theme for the Lakers for most of the season: their focus. The Lakers had 18 turnovers and it was either because they threw the ball away or lost the handle on the rock. The Bulls took advantage by scoring 34 points off those giveaways. The Bulls also killed them in transition; Chicago had 15 fast break points compared to the Lakers’ 5.

D’Angelo Russell also didn’t play in this game and this is where the Lakers really needed him. Austin Reaves is an improved playmaker but he’s always had trouble with teams that pressure the perimeter like the Bulls do. LeBron surprisingly didn’t really do a lot of it and that’s perhaps because it’s his first game back. Still, their energy was just lacking throughout the afternoon. There were spurts where they looked great but they needed more than spurts.

Anthony Davis only got 8 shots in this game. He was two-teamed a lot in this game and got in foul trouble himself. Still, the perimeter shooters didn’t make the Bulls pay and it’s why I said Beasley joined the party late. If they had made shots earlier, maybe they wouldn’t have been down by 20. I love Austin Reaves as much as everybody but man, was he getting cooked on defense by the Bulls (to be fair, the Bulls cooked the Lakers pretty much all game).

Lastly, Rui Hachimura was the odd man out of the rotation. Lonnie Walker IV got the call because he got understandably rewarded for his play against Oklahoma City. Still, Rui has been good at both ends of the floor and provides good height and length, which was needed against Chicago. For him to be shut out of this game was a baffling decision.

As for Chicago, Zach LaVine couldn’t be stopped. DeMar DeRozan had a fantastic all-around game. When Nikola Vucevic was ejected, Andre Drummond provided interior scoring. Coby White got off to a strong start and it was more than enough for Chicago. Derrick Jones, Jr. made an immediate impact when he got minutes left over from the Vucevic ejection. And, well, we know what Patrick Beverley does. We miss you, Alex Caruso.

LeBron James did finish with 19 points to lead the team but he had 5 turnovers. Troy Brown, Jr. scored 15 of his 18 in the first half. Malik Beasley had 18 and most of them came in a late rally. Anthony Davis had a quiet 15 points and 9 boards.

LaVine went for 32 points while DeRozan had 17-6-10 for the game. Coby White scored 13 off the bench while Drummond had 12 points and 8 boards. Your favorite ex-Laker Patrick Beverley scored double figures with 10.

The good news is that they get to run this back on Wednesday (I will have a preview then). The bad news is that they missed a chance on gaining ground in the West; we know they want that 6th spot now that it’s more realistic than ever. But OKC is playing later and the Wolves and Warriors are going against each other in a huge game.

And of course, the Lakers missed out a chance on going over .500. Wait for that book to come out: Missed Opportunities: The 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers Season.

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