Game Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

Kurt —  December 18, 2007

Records: Lakers 14-9; Bulls 8-13
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.3 (6th); Bulls 99.7 (28th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.0 (11th); Bulls 105.0 (8th)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Bulls: Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Joe Smith, Ben Wallace

Lakers Notes: Swamped at work so we’re going to be short and sweet today. Just a quick injury update. Vladamir Radmanovic has sprained both wrists — with is a pretty impressive feat, when you think about it — and he is listed as day-to-day, but I don’t expect to see him tonight. Fisher and Kobe are sore but will play. Kwame Brown will not be back against the team that gave him the injury one month ago.

The Bulls Coming In: The Bulls have played better of late — they are 6-4 in their last 10 after that horrific 2-8 start. Not that the improved play has inspired a lot of confidence in the Windy City yet.

Part of what held them back early was poor shooting, and that seems to slowly be turning around. In his last 10 games, Loul Deng is shooting 49.1% and Kirk Hinrich is shooting 40.7% from three in the last 10 (but just 43% from inside the arc). The Lakers need to contest shots tonight

Last time these two met: Loul Deng was out with back spasms and the Bulls started Eddie Adrian Griffin, both very good signs for the Lakers then that will not happen tonight.

The Lakers pulled away in the second half on a charge led by Farmar, Walton and the Lakers second unit. Pressed into more minutes after Kwame went down, Bynum made Ben Wallace look old at times (something a lot of people have done this season). By the end this was a laugher, but that was because the bench did well. The starters were not terribly impressive for the Lakers.

Keys To The Game: What the Bulls do on offense is not rocket science — high screen and roll, drive the lane and then kick it out for the open jumper. They live and die on the perimeter. The Lakers cannot suck down into the lane when the penetration comes (as is their tendency), rather they need to stay with their man on the perimeter, let the weak-side help defense do its thing to prevent lay-ups. Rotations will be key.

Also, the Bulls are a team that pressures the opposing guards, picking them up earlier and tighter than most teams. Fisher and Farmar (and Kobe) need to take care of the ball because turnovers given to such an athletic team will spell trouble.

Tonight’s Game: Where A Road Win Happens: This is not the Bulls team the Lakers saw a month ago, Los Angeles will have to play better to get the win. That’s what good teams do. I look for another big night from the bench and Bynum keying the Lakers to a close win.

Where you can watch: Game time is 5:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into KCAL (9), nationally you’ll need NBA TV or League Pass or a good “black box” to illegally decode the cable signal.