Lakers 98, Bulls 91: Nov. 23 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Chicago as the Lakers looked to win their fifth straight game, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Bulls: D. Rose, K. Bogans, L. Deng, T. Gibson, J. Noah

FIRST QUARTER
9:17 It wasn’t surprising to see the Lakers go right at 6-5 shooting guard Keith Bogans, as L.A. has a guy named Kobe Bryant at that position. The early results were seven points for Kobe in a 7-2 lead, and two personal fouls on Bogans, who got the hook in favor of Ronnie Brewer. The other interesting matchup to watch? Ron Artest guarding ultra-quick Derrick Rose … at least until Artest’s second personal foul brought Matt Barnes into the contest.

1:05 After toying with Golden State’s defense in a wire-to-wire Sunday blowout, the Lakers took a while to adjust to Chicago’s staunch defense on Tuesday, making only 4-of-16 shots while Joakim Noah disrupted things in Coach Tom Thibodeau’s system much like Kevin Garnett had in Boston. Nonetheless, a Matt Barnes three cut Chicago’s early lead to only one at 22-21.

0:00.4 The Bulls looked poised to put L.A. in a rare, if small, hole out of the first quarter until Chicago native Shannon Brown launched a high-arching, buzzer-beating triple to knot the game at 26 after one.

SECOND QUARTER
8:52 How ’bout that Lakers bench? In really every game this season, the purple and gold pine crew has found a way to impact things positively. This time, it was Brown leading the charge, adding his second three and a driving layup to score nine of L.A.’s 20 points in a 20-10 burst that opened a six-point lead for the champs.

4:42 Just as the Lakers started to gain a bit of control of the ball-game with Bryant’s and-1 opening a then-high 8-point lead, Derrick Rose hit a triple, then fed Noah for a layup to cut the lead back to just three. Well, at least until Brown dropped yet another three-pointer, his fourth of the game and 28th of the season. Quick stat: of the 12 players who’ve hit more triples than Brown, not one has a higher percentage than his 54.9 percent. In fact, not one of those players (including snipers like Ray Allen, Stephen Jackson and Danilo Gallinari) is shooting higher than 46 percent.

0:00 L.A. shot just 38% in the half, but made 13 free throws to Chicago’s seven, hit four more threes and forced 10 turnovers on the Bulls to hold a 51-49 lead at the break. Thirty of those points came from the Bryant-Brown combo, with Brown’s 18 leading all scorers.

THIRD QUARTER
10:35 The Lakers missed Ron Artest’s defense a bit in the first half after the D-stud committed two early fouls and played only 11 minutes, but his strip of Taj Gibson earned two free throws for Fisher at the other end to cap a 6-0 run out of the half. Speaking of people the Lakers miss … this is the type of matchup in which they could really use Andrew Bynum. On offense, since he draws Noah away from Gasol and lets the Spaniard go at either Carlos Boozer (when healthy) or Taj Gibson; on defense, his length is about the only thing that can deter the frequent Rose forays into the paint.

4:51 L.A. continued to play well in the third in nearly every aspect, but couldn’t seem to clear a defensive rebound as Chicago got seven straight points off offensive boards to cut a 10-point margin to four at 65-61. Keying the effort was Noah, who tipped in consecutive Bulls misses. Meanwhile, Rose and Bryant were exchanging ridiculous darting drives and beautiful jumpers keyed by perfect footwork, creating quite a buzz in the arena.

0:01.0 Brown couldn’t find the magic that resulted in his first quarter buzzer-beater, coming up short on a triple as L.A. held only a one-point lead at 74-73 after leading by as many as 10 in the period. The Lakers limited Rose thanks to Artest while building that lead, but ultimately the No. 1 overall pick had his way, slashing into the paint to score 11 of his 27 points in the period. Odom matched him with 11 of his own in the third to reach 18 total, the same as both Bryant and Brown.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:48 If Derrick Caracter can be as productive he was in a key two-minute stretch, well, he may earn more two-minute stretches. First came a layup in traffic thanks to a lob pass from Brown, then a swat of Deng at the rim to turn possession back L.A.’s way in a 79-77 contest.

5:54 A brilliant stretch of basketball from Bryant, who picked apart Chicago’s defense to first get Brown an open three after drawing a double-team, then scored over Deng when the Bulls didn’t bring a double, and finally got Blake an open three after drawing the double again. Clinical.

Speaking of clinical … L.A.’s bench continued to shine in a big way, as Barnes followed the Blake triple with one of his own, leading only to Blake hitting another in transition for a 9-0 run, all on threes orchestrated off double-teams of Bryant, to put the Lakers quickly but firmly in control at 95-83. The home team’s bench, at that point, had outscored Chicago’s 39-8.

0:45.0 Well, that was quite a way for Gasol to get his 6,000th career rebound, tipping in Kobe’s miss for a 98-89 lead, likely icing the game for the Lakers. Gasol had an off night offensively, scoring 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting after his perfect 28-point game, but he was tough on the glass (11 total) and great defensively in the lane (five blocks). But the bench was the story of the game, lifting the Lakers to a 13-2 record after the team’s fifth straight win.