Lakers 96, Bulls 87: Running Diary

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We took a look at the Lakers – Bulls contest in the Windy City while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter looked to start a new winning streak.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (14th straight game)
Bulls: Jerome James

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Bulls: Derrick Rose, John Salmons, Luol Deng, Brad Miller, Joakim Noah

Phil Jackson Pregame
Always a hit with the Chicago media (I think he won a few titles here?), Jackson has now actually coached more games in L.A. than he did in Chi-town, as Lakers sideline reporter John Ireland pointed out. Jackson said he still enjoys coming back, but it’s of course much different from how it used to be. He also explained that Kobe Bryant’s finger seems better to him than it was on Saturday in Utah, certainly, and that his co-captain’s stomach ailment is no longer an issue. One other note: the Lakers have beaten the Bulls five straight time, including sweeps in the last two seasons.

First Quarter
9:52 For the NBA’s 28th rated offense, the Bulls sure started out nicely, hitting their first four field goals to take an 8-2 lead. Meanwhile, Bryant clanked his first two jumpers, but then…

591557242:24 … He got ridiculously, ridiculously hot (like in “Zoolander”) from the perimeter. Bryant made eight straight perimeter J’s as if he were still taking unguarded pregame shots*. His first make came after drawing the second foul on John Salmons, who had to be relieved by Kirk Hinrich, who promptly allowed seven straight makes up close and personal. The last got Kobe to 20 points and kept L.A. in a ball game that saw Chicago open at 10-for-15 (66.7 percent).
*Wait a second. Kobe has a broken finger?

0:19.5 Jordan Farmar’s been as consistently productive off the bench of late as “Jersey Shore” is consistently (unintentionally) hilarious (OK maybe not that much), and he continued the trend by nailing a corner three to even the score at 31 heading into the second. The Bulls played a very good quarter, but received quite a blow when Rose left with 5:50 to play due to a strained left rib (questionable return).

Second Quarter
9:44 Shannon Brown checked in and quickly converted a pretty left-handed layup in front of many of his family members and friends. After all, he’s from Maywood, Ill., which is a stone’s throw away from the United Center. Even better, Brown forgot to bring a belt, instead using a piece of lace/string from the team hotel. Farmar and Adam Morrison couldn’t have been happier to see it.

5:35 Kobe’s first second quarter look after a good rest? Swish. The next two Lakers possession continued a trend of extra passes that saw Lamar Odom get two easy layup thanks to Gasol’s pretty looks, putting L.A. up 49-42 to match the visiting team’s biggest lead. Odom had seven points, two assists, two boards, a block and a steal at that point.

0:47.1 Gasol had one of his worst offensive halfs of the season by making just 1-of-4 with the energetic Joakim Noah chasing him all over the place, and he appeared to take it out on Chicago with a nasty move along the baseline that culminated in a reverse dunk. That basket put L.A. up 54-48 at the half, on strength of a 23-17 second quarter.

Third Quarter
10:21 Del Negro decided to take Joakim Noah – who may have been Chicago’s most effective player with 10 points, 11 boards and five blocks – out 59156332for rookie Taj Gibson to match up with Gasol? Meanwhile, Bryant, up-faked Salmons into his fourth foul very early in the period, bringing Hinrich (a better overall player) back into the game.

5:01 The Bulls continued to hang in after Rose got to the baseline for a pull-up jumper that cut L.A.’s lead to three at 64-61. In other news, Chicago’s mascot sat on the lap of the wife of a guy wearing a Lakers warm up jersey, sitting courtside. He was about as amused as Kobe gets after a missed call.

0:02.9 Rose missed a pull-up jumper to end a good quarter for Chicago which saw a six-point half time lead turn into a one-point deficit heading into the forth. The Lakers were only 4-for-19 in the quarter (21 percent).

Fourth Quarter
11:00 Have you been to LetShannonDunk.com? It’s fun. Check it out. Also, feel free to watch him fly as he did here, for a nasty baseline hammer that followed his three-pointer in a personal 5-0 run to start the quarter. His field goal a minute later gave him nine points on 4-of-4 shooting.

6:35 Kobe’s turnaround jumper capped a 14-4 Lakers that turned control of the game the purple and gold’s way with a 86-77 margin. Bryant had 38 points at that stage on 13-of-23 FGs, 11-of-15 FTs as L.A. tried to put the game on ice.

3:00 Odom, who was very effective early and not as effective in the middle of the game, broke Chicago’s back with a fadeaway jumper from the baseline as the shot clock expired, putting the Lakers back up eight as the Bulls tried a final rally. Who else but Bryant would seal the game with a running left-handed floater from 15-feet? It got him to 40 points, put L.A. up eight and buried the Bulls.

The Lakers will take their shot at Milwaukee tomorrow night, but until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
6 Blocks from Chicago’s Joakim Noah, who recently called out LeBron James for extra celebration. Noah was a problem for L.A. all night, grabbing 20 rebounds (14 offensive) and scoring 11 points (even if it took him 16 FGA’s).

10 Combined missed threes in the game from Kobe Bryant (1-for-5) and Ron Artest (1-for-7).

11 Free throws made by Bryant, as well as Chicago’s entire team.

20 Points scored by Bryant in a fantastic first quarter, en route to a game-high 42 on 15-of-26 field goals and 11-of-15 from the charity stripe. What hurt finger?

100 Shannon Brown’s shooting percentage on four attempts, including a three and a nasty dunk early in the fourth that turned the game’s momentum. Brown, a native of Maywood, Illinois (a few blocks from United Center), did the deed in front of many of his family members and friends. Special night for the second-year Laker.