This game marks the halfway point of the regular season. Who would’ve thought that coming into this game with the Chicago Bulls that the Lakers would be six games under .500? Granted, the Lakers still have time to turn the season around. But they will have their work cut out for them.
Coach Mike D’Antoni decided to make more moves. He decided that Pau Gasol would be coming off the bench “permanently” where he feels Gasol could maximize his talents the most. This after Gasol came off a season-high 25 points in an embarrassing loss against the Raptors on Sunday. Dwight Howard will try to bounce back from his early exit from Sunday’s game after he got ejected in the second quarter when he got his second technical foul of the contest. And Kobe Bryant will try to bounce back after blaming himself for their loss against Toronto.
The Lakers drew the Chicago Bulls, who were without Luol Deng, on Martin Luther King Day. Did the Lakers get back on the winning track? Let’s check out the recap.
The Lakers got down early once again, 6-0. They quickly recovered with the hustle play of Earl Clark and Metta World Peace. It makes people wonder about the fate of Pau Gasol.
How much longer, will Pau be a #Laker?
— JAMES E KING III (@wcsteelerfan) January 22, 2013
Steve Nash looked to get aggressive early. He scored eight points in the first seven minutes so, at least, the Lakers had his offense going. But defensively, well, it’s the same ol’ story. Old guard Richard Hamilton and his mask seemed to be getting anywhere he wanted to with his jumpers and lay-ups. Carlos Boozer was cursing his way to rebounds and baskets. While the Laker offense seemed to be doing fine, the Laker defense was its usual porous self.
Pau Gasol came into the game with four minutes left in the first quarter. His first shot looked wild inside the key and his second shot was a desperation three that was blocked by Joakim Noah. That basically sums up Gasol’s season.
The Lakers couldn’t even get a shot off at the end of the first quarter. The Bulls led the Lakers, 27-20, after one.
The grinding pace of the game continued. It was just the way the Bulls liked it. The bench from the Bulls (their version of the Bench Mob) gave Chicago some help as Taj Gibson hustled, Nate Robinson annoyed, and Marco Belinelli shot their way through the Lakers defense
Earl Clark continued to be a big help for the Lakers. This is the reason why Mike D’Antoni has started him in place of Pau.
But there were some defensive breakdowns (as usual) for the Lakers (even though they did a little better holding their own on that end). Carlos Boozer got open for a dunk that put the Bulls lead back up to six. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, on the offensive end, kept the Lakers in the game. But the Lakers were lucky that the Bulls weren’t making their open threes. Of course, Laker fans weren’t happy about this.
The chemistry with the Lakers is terrible
— Cherish (@iamcherished1) January 22, 2013
At the end of the half, the Bulls led the Lakers, 47-40. Lakers were a little lucky to be only down just seven.
The third quarter started out really ugly. Neither team could make a basket.
What may be more disturbing was Dwight Howard’s performance up to that point. Before Howard went to the line for the first time in the third quarter, some Laker fans were alarmed by his production.
You want to lead a franchise and you have 3 points in the 3rd??? GTFO. I’m gonna go watch the Bachelor.
— Amara Baptist (@Amarina27) January 22, 2013
While I think about being on the Bachelor myself, having four points at that point probably wouldn’t win many ladies. Nevertheless, the Lakers pressed on and were able to cut the lead down to 50-45.
The Bulls and Lakers traded buckets for a bit, which was what the Lakers didn’t want. Eventually, Dwight Howard was stripped of the ball (which has become a familiar sight this season). The Bulls took advantage and Kirk Hinrich made a corner three off the break to boost the Bull lead to 10 points.
The Lakers came back with a nice run, though. Steve Nash made a three-pointer. Then Earl Clark made a nice block that spurred a Laker break. Kobe made a traditional three-point play to cut the lead to four.
Metta World Peace’s three would cut the lead to one. Then Pau Gasol came off the bench and immediately scored two jumpers. Unfortunately, his third jumper would be an airball. Antawn Jamison’s foul shots would tie the game and then Kobe’s lay-up off the break would give the Lakers their first lead. Jimmy Butler from the Bulls, though, would sink his foul shots and tie the game at the end of the third at 69.
Did the Lakers have one more run to get the win?
The bench provided the Bulls a boost again. Nate Robinson and Taj Gibson made back-to-back baskets while Chris Duhon put up a 30-footer on the other end.
Cool shot selection on that 30 foot jumper, Chris Duhon.
— SBNation NBA (@SBNationNBA) January 22, 2013
And then Jimmy Butler made a steal and dunk that put the Bulls up four. Kobe Bryant followed that up with an airball from behind the arc. Yikes. Our thoughts from our fearless reporter…
Bewildered by the fact that the Lakers absolutely cannot build off momentum
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) January 22, 2013
The Lakers did tie the game at 75 but the Bulls countered with Marco Belinelli getting to the line and Kirk Hinrich continuing with his assassination of the Lakers. Dwight Howard, at that point, got his fifth foul and had been invisible throughout the game. He was shooting 2-5 and had eight points. The Bulls were up, 79-75, with about five minutes left.
The Bulls continued with more buckets as they put together an 8-0 run. Nash countered with a jumper to cut the lead to six. But Belinelli punched the Lakers in the face with back-to-back three-pointers that gave Chicago a 10-point lead. Kirk Hinrich put the game away as he lost Nash and converted a jumper.
The Lakers lost to the Bulls, 95-83. L.A. lost their third straight game, which has, unfortunately, become a recurring theme.
POINTS: Steve Nash, 18.
REBOUNDS: Pau Gasol, 12.
ASSISTS: Steve Nash, 6.
BLOCKS: Metta World Peace, 3.
STEALS: Metta World Peace, 4.