Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening road game at Chicago, the start of a six-game trek through the Midwest and East Coast, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and P. Gasol
Bulls: D. Rose, K. Bogans, L. Deng, C. Boozer, J. Noah
7:50 When the Lakers were at their best early in the season, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were extremely aggressive on offense, the ball was moving around crisply with Kobe Bryant not having to over-exert himself. That’s exactly what we saw from the Lakers in a terrific first four minutes, with Gasol making 3-of-4 shots, Odom 2-of-3 and Bryant not shooting until a wide-open painted area (Chicago focusing on Gasol and Odom) created a lane for Kobe’s driving two-handed dunk. The score, accordingly, was 12-4 L.A.
2:47 The offense slowed a bit for the Lakers, but their defense didn’t, effectively keeping the Bulls on the perimeter while holding them to 4-of-15 shooting (26.7 percent). Most of L.A.’s 18 points had come in the paint, including four consecutive dunks during one stretch. Gasol was especially effective, making 5-of-7 shots for 10 points, already two more field goals than he managed in a 3-of-10 night against Joakim Noah at STAPLES Center a few weeks back.
0:00 Though a few rim outs put LAL’s shooting percentage below 50 percent, the Lakers held the home team to only 25 percent shooting in the period for a 22-12 lead. Gasol nearly outscored Chicago himself with those 10 points, while Odom’s eight points and five assists didn’t give him enough credit, since he also held Carlos Boozer without a field goal attempt in nine minutes.
5:35 If the Lakers end up losing this game, they may begrudge the fact that they really struggled to take advantage of Chicago’s historically bad early shooting (22 percent halfway through the period), making only 2-of-9 shots to start the period. Bryant re-entered and hit a jumper, but Rose countered with a three that cut L.A.’s lead to 29-20.
2:48 An 13-2 Bulls run made it a new ball game, back-to-back triples from Kyle Korver and Deng keying the spurt and erasing L.A.’s 13-point lead. Instead, we had a 32-30 contest, which made some sense as lineup changes took away the early paint dominance established by Gasol and Odom.
0:00 Things got oddly even worse for the Lakers, as two more turnovers gave them eight in the quarter, including an inexplicable error between Fisher and Bryant in which the PG and SG couldn’t connect on an uncontested three-foot pass. This allowed Chicago the final possession of the half, and Rose scored from the baseline to give Chicago a 36-32 lead at the half of an odd first half. The Lakers made only 4-of-15 shots in the period for 10 total points.
7:30 Fortunately for the Lakers, things were looking more like the first than the second quarter, in part because the starting lineup was out there in full effect. Bryant led an early quarter surge to tie the game at 40, getting within nine points of surpassing John Havlicek for 11th on the league’s all-time scoring list in the process.
3:41 It was tight at both ends throughout the period, the teams exchanging leads until Odom’s 1-of-2 free throws tied the game at 49. In other Odom news, he spent the day relaxing, choosing not to leave his hotel room, as he plans on spending time with his kids when the team’s in New York City tomorrow.
0:44.6 But it was all Bulls in the final three minutes, Chicago reeling off a 15-5 run to open a 64-54 lead. Gasol would add two free throws, Deng a jumper and Barnes draw Noah’s goaltend to make it a 66-58 Bulls lead heading into the fourth quarter.
8:27 A potentially significant shift occurred as Ronnie Brewer missed an open layup, and Kobe nailed a corner three in the opposite corner to make what would have been a 10-point Bulls lead just a 70-65 edge. But after forcing a turnover, the Lakers were hit with a three-second violation on Gasol, a call that had Phil Jackson more angry than I’ve seen him in a long time. Naturally, the Bulls took advantage with two straight hoops to push the lead back to nine.
4:52 After Rose somehow got a fading, double-clutch three from the corner to fall (shaking his head in the process), Korver hit his third triple of the game to put Chicago firmly in control, up 80-69. The Lakers continued to suffer from the same thing that had ailed them in the past two weeks: a lack of depth down low due to the injured knees of Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff. But then, quickly, came a 6-0 Lakers burst, not to mention a point added when Rose’s bucket was deemed a two. That made it a six-point game.
0:25.2 “MVP!” chants were rocking the United Center, but not for Kobe Bryant (who had moments earlier surpassed Havlicek), which happens more than you might think on the road. Instead it was Derrick Rose getting some love, thanks to two more tough hoops that pushed Chicago’s lead to 85-80, countering a corner three from Derek Fisher that cut the lead to a single possession. Rose and Bryant would exchange free throw misses before two makes from Brewer put the lead back at five, out of reach with 10 seconds remaining.
With the loss, the Lakers fell to 16-7 on the season, with five more road games — all against non playoff teams — coming up in the next 10 days.
26,398 Career points scored by Kobe Bryant after his 23-point effort, two points more than Celtics legend John Havlicek scored in his career. That vaulted Bryant up to the No. 11 spot in NBA scoring history.
29 Points from third year guard Derrick Rose, who was terrific throughout the evening in his first career victory over the Lakers. He added nine assists and five boards for the Bulls.
18 Combined first quarter points for Gasol and Odom in the paint to lead the Lakers to a 22-12 advantage. They’d combine to score just 16 in the next two quarters, however, the Bulls taking advantage to lead 66-58 into the fourth, showcasing once again how much the Lakers are looking forward to Andrew Bynum’s return.
11 Points from L.A.’s bench, eight of which came from Matt Barnes plus a triple from Blake. Chicago’s bench managed 24 points.
0 Points scored by Shannon Brown in his return to Chicago. The Maywood native missed all four shots he took, and couldn’t seem to get untracked in 18 minutes.