Heading into Saturday evening’s contest in the Windy City, we identified 10 things you should know about the Chicago Bulls, whom L.A. will face in the first of seven consecutive road games.
1) Chicago has won seven consecutive games at the United Center, and their opponents have been anything but bad: Denver, Orlando, Houston, New Orleans and Boston are among the conquered.
2) The Bulls are 8-7 since acquiring Brad Miller and John Salmons from Sacramento for Andres Nocioni, Drew Gooden, Cedric Simmons and Michael Ruffin.
3) Salmons has scored at a solid clip since joining the Bulls. In March, he’s scored at least 20 points in 6-of-9 games, while in 14 total games in the red and white he’s averaging 21.1 points. Salmons has started the last nine games, and does better on Kobe Bryant than most players in the league.
4) The Lakers have beaten the Bulls 80 times in their collective history, to 54 losses. L.A.’s currently on a three-game winning streak, including last season’s sweep.
5) Bulls starting small forward Luol Deng is out with a right shin contusion.
Joining Deng on the bench is Jerome James, who has a ruptured right Achilles.
6) The Bulls have won 17 games versus 12 losses against the Western Conference, though they’ve gone just 15-25 against the East for an overall record of 32-37. That’s still good for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, while the West’s eighth team, Dallas, is 41-28.
7) Teams like Milwaukee (31-39) and Charlotte (30-38) are right on Chicago’s heels for the last playoff spot, so the Bulls are scratching and clawing for every win.
8) The Bulls have shot a solid 41.5 percent from three over the last nine games, led by Kirk Hinrich’s 14-of-24 (58.3 percent) and Ben Gordon’s 19-of-40 (47.5 percent). In related news, the Lakers have been susceptible to threes all season.
9) Derrick Rose ranks among the rookie leaders in several categories, including scoring (16.5, second), assists (6.2, first), minutes (36.8, second) and shooting (46.6 percent, fourth). His primary weakness is his outside shot, which allows opposing guards to play off him or go under on screen rolls.
10) Chicago is only 12-29 when their opponents score 100+ points, and the Lakers average 108.1 points per game.
Check back tonight for a live running diary from the United Center.