After their worst loss of the season, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton inserted Tyson Chandler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope into the starting lineup for Tuesday’s matchup with the Chicago Bulls.
With Chandler providing much-needed communication and Caldwell-Pope being a perimeter threat for the young core, the Lakers rebounded from their loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers by defeating the Bulls, 107-100.
“Solid win for our group. Again, it’s a good thing we made a commitment to each other that we would be a top-10 defensive team, because we heavily relied on the defensive end tonight. We did a really nice job. You can go down the line,” Walton said.
“We always talk about it being our team defense but it’s made up of individuals. I thought KCP did a great job on LaVine. Tyson really helped set the tone with it. We had to find a way to scrap out a win, and we did it. Hopefully we learned a lesson of an NBA game is never over. That last minute and a half was ugly and sloppy. You see how quickly a team can get back in it. Hopefully we are able to learn that lesson now while we’re still able to get a win.”
While the Lakers ended their two-game losing streak, they enter an extremely challenging stretch of games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves.
As LeBron James participated in shootaround and will be re-evaluated before the road trip begins, he’s not expected to travel with the team and therefore will miss at least two more games.
Whether that means Walton will stick with his lineup changes is not yet determined. “I have to look at this tape,” he said. “I loved our defensive intensity to start, I’ll tell you that. I thought it carried throughout the game. I got to get into OKC, look at their team and look at our matchups, and then make that decision [Wednesday] or the next day.”
Since James has already reached three weeks in his recovery, the hope is he can return in the near future. As the 34-year-old is reportedly willing to take multiple weeks to fully recover from his groin strain, there is pressure to keep pace in the Western Conference.
Following their Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers were in fourth place. Since the injuries to James and Rajon Rondo, they have lost seven of their last 11 games and are tied with the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final spot.
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