Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

Jeff Skibiski —  December 10, 2010

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Records: Lakers 16-6 (3rd in the West), Bulls 12-8 (4th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.5 (1st in NBA), Bulls 104.8 (20th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (11th in NBA), Bulls 103.6 (9th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Bulls: Derrick Rose, Keith Bogans, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Injuries:Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Theo Ratliff (out), Derrick Caracter (day-to-day)

The Lakers Coming in: Both the Lakers have and Bulls come into tonight’s matchup riding three-game winning streaks, following a down stretch for both squads. More troubling for Chicago where tonight’s game is concerned is their seven game losing streak to L.A., dating back to over four years ago. The Lakers, meanwhile, come into the United Center on a high note after Derek Fisher’s buzzer-beater preserved a grind-it-out victory against the Clippers on Wednesday night. With five more tough road games looming after tonight’s affair, the hope is that the Lakers can ride the momentum from Fisher’s latest heroics to a successful trip.

Ron Artest continues to under perform for L.A., scoring a combined 16 points during the Lakers’ winning streak. Matt Barnes hasn’t exactly been heating it up from outside lately either, though, missing his last 12 three-point attempts. Jackson actually utilized Barnes in favor of Artest when the Lakers last played Chicago, particularly down the stretch of what was a closely-contested game.

The Bulls Coming in: Chicago has been infused by the return of marquee free agent acquisition Carlos Boozer, who in five games is averaging 15 points to go along with six boards in 26 minutes of playing time. The longtime Jazz forward has been inconsistent so far, following up his masterful 29 point, 12 rebound performance against the Thunder earlier this week with only four points against Cleveland in the Bulls’ most recent win. While Chicago certainly needs Carlos if they want to make any kind of serious run at the Eastern Conference crown, they were more than able to steady the ship with him out. Once he works his way back into playing shape and fully integrates himself with his new team, the Bulls figure to be as dangerous as just about any team that side of the Mississippi.

The last time these two teams met just a little over two weeks ago, the Lakers gutted out a 98-91 victory thanks to some timely shooting down the stretch of the fourth quarter and a difference-making performance from the Killer B’s. Derrick Rose was an absolute menace for Chicago, seemingly scoring at will against the Lakers’ Bynum-less defense on his way to a huge night (30 points, eight assists). Joakim Noah also outhustled Bynum and Gasol throughout the night, securing a game high 13 boards in addition to scoring 19 points of his own.

Bulls Blogs: Check out the fantastic work at Blog-a-Bull and By the Horns for more on what’s been going down in Chi-town.

Keys to game: It’s too bad the Lakers won’t have Bynum back in the lineup for a few more games because they could really use him against a team like the Bulls whose personnel allows them to penetrate deep into the lane and often out-muscle teams down low despite having an undersized front line. We wrote about it prior to the Lakers’ last meeting with the Bulls and the same is true in tonight’s game — stop Derrick Rose’s patented drives to the hoop and you likely stop the Bulls too.

Gasol and Odom in particular will need to step up on defense, both against Rose and Chicago’s new-and-improved front line. Boozer isn’t known as an especially strong rebounder, but Noah is a beast down low and was repeatedly able to beat Gasol to the glass the last time the Lakers and Bulls met. The Bulls also got a surprising performance (16 points, 12 rebounds) out of Taj Gibson in that game too. Now relegated to a bench role with Boozer’s return, Gibson still figures to be a wild card down low for Chicago. Odom actually had one of his better games of the season last time against Chicago, scoring 21 points to go along with eight boards. L.A. needed every bit of it too as Pau was completely ineffective that night, only putting up 12 points on a lousy 3-10 from the field. A similar effort against a healthy Chicago squad simply won’t cut it tonight.

The Lakers bench outscored Chicago’s by a whopping 29 points (39 to 10) in November, with Shannon Brown leading the way with 21 points to tie Odom for the team lead in that game. Despite the bench scoring gap, the Bulls’ core bench trio — Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and Kyle Korver — are more than capable of influencing a game for Chicago. Add Gibson to that mix and you have the makings of a very potent bench.

Other than Chicago, the teams the Lakers play on this trip — New Jersey, Washington, Indiana, Philadelphia, Toronto — are all more than winnable. L.A. admittedly lost focus a bit during their recent four-game slide (not that that they have looked particularly impressive during their last three wins either…) and their place atop the standings, but there’s no better cure for such ails than dominating a road trip. The Lakers are already accustomed to their annual extended Grammys trip in February, but this quarter season trek could provide a perfect tune-up. It all starts with a win against the Bulls tonight, though.

One last note to look for tonight…according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kobe (26,375 points) only needs 20 points to match John Havlicek’s career total (26,395). Havlicek ranks 11th among the NBA’s all-time leaders scorers, but he’s the only player who spent his entire NBA career with one team to score more points than Bryant. Kobe only scored 20 against Chicago the last time around on a measly 8-18 shooting from the floor, but my money is on #24 passing Havlicek tonight.

Where you can watch: 5 p.m. PST start time on KCAL and ESPN. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710 a.m.

Jeff Skibiski

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81 responses to Preview & Chat: The Chicago Bulls

  1. Let’s hope Lamar can handle Boozer as if he were still in Utah.

    This one’s for Warren.

  2. I know all you LA fans on the west coast are hating the early start, but here on the east we finally get a game not past midnight. The bench has to come out to play on the road, if not the team will have to rely on Kobe to do it all. The hero mode Kobe has not had good results this season in the win column. ShanWow and Barnes need to play with energy, be aggresive with the ball and not settle for jumpshots. So lets go bench and hope Rose is not the human highlight film he was last time.

  3. Joakim Noah also outhustled Bynum and Gasol throughout the night

    Should be Odom and Gasol.

    Love this site BTW, though I don’t tend to comment. You guys do a fantastic job.

  4. Nice Preview Jeff! One thing that wasn’t mention here that the K Bros touched on in the links this morning was the play of Shannon Brown vs Chicago. I learned this morning he grew up in a close town and plays well because all his friends and family will be there watching (Just like how LA natives seem to always play well against the lakers in LA)

    So between Shannon Brown trying to play well in his hometown, Kobe trying to pass John Havlicek’s point total, and Phil’s possible last visit to Chicago this should be a great game! I’m excited to see how it plays out.

  5. 3 – even if Bynum were playing that night, Noah would have outhusled him anyway. LOL…

    This game will set the tone for the rest of the road trip.

    Win, and we know that the team has its focus back.

    Lose, and we know that the team is still in cruise mode.

    It’s not a make or break game, but it’s definitely a barometer type game like vs. POR (which they ACED) earlier in the season and DEN and UTA (which they failed).

    I’m hoping for a solid 6 point win. Go Lakers!

  6. with Noah in action against a somewhat worn down Pau, look for Kobe to come out aggressive as I expect he will.

  7. “With 5 more tough road games looming after tonight’s affair.” Are u serious? Please name 1 out of those 5 squads that’s tough. Anyway, looking forward to tonight’s test. It will allow us to see if we’re really playing bad or were we just playing down to the level of our opposition over the last 3 games.

  8. FINALLY a great road start against a good team. I really think Gasol needs to play well to get back into his “mental groove”, he is off to a nice start tonight but I think the biggest reason the Lakers struggled as of late is because of Pau. He went from being a spectacular all-star to being an average supporting cast type player, he is the key to the team so he needs to get back to his earlier form.

  9. @ Tra:

    I understand your skepticism but I dont know if you happened to catch last night’s game on TNT. The Sixers actually can make life tough for teams, especially at home. The Pacers are obviously a sub .500 team, but they have some good players. i dont think anyone would have predicted roy hibbert to break out this way, and danny granger can be as good as any small forward that isn’t lebron james or kevin durant

  10. Kobe still has the hops.

  11. With Rose out the Lakers need to be adding to this lead not giving it up

  12. Wasting opportunity after opportunity!

  13. This has been one ugly first half.

  14. Awful offensive quarter so far.

  15. God PAU grab the dang rebound! Why tip it out jump with two hands and grab the ball! This has been one of the worst quarters I have ever seen the Lakers play

  16. So, real life Ivan Drago’d me this afternoon and haven’t seen a lick of this game. Saw the score at the end of the first and obviously that’s been reversed to this point. Can someone catch me up?

  17. offense has been awful. Forcing passes and turning the ball over

  18. Lakers have one good quarter (the first) and one terrible quarter (the second) to trail at the half

  19. The Lakers were getting stops and turnovers in the first quarter.

    In the second quarter the Lakers have committed 8 turnovers and Kyle Korver and Derrick Rose caught fire while the Lakers wouldn’t have been able to fall out of a boat and hit water.

  20. That 2nd qtr was the most pathetic display of basketball I think I’ve ever seen. Actually, pretty much all of their 2nd qtrs this season have been pathetic.

    Last I checked, the diameter of the rim is actually larger than the diameter of the ball. Hmmm… make an f-ing basket!

  21. Darius,

    The Lakers were up 18-6 at one point, the Lakers’ passing looked crisp, but it went downhill after that. The defensive energy is great, although negated by the hot-shooting Korver in the 2nd quarter. It has been UGLY.

  22. Darius, the Lakers had 8 turnovers in the second quarter and couldn’t hit any shots at all, basically very poor execution.

    On the defensive end, any intensity they had in the first quarter vanished, Kyle Korver was running a shooting drill and Rose did what he wanted to in the lane. Pretty pathetic second quarter, after a great first quarter.

  23. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team throw so many bad passes in a single quarter. It’s embarrassing.

    The first 8 minutes of the game were a demonstration of precision passing and shooting.

    The rest of the game has been a demonstration of what we’ve been watching for the past few weeks.

  24. 32 points for the half Darius, that about sums it up lol

  25. The Lakers also aren’t getting to the line, but not for lack of trying. They’re going to the hole and getting contact but no whistles.

  26. Just caught the highlights at halftime. They didn’t tell me much. Thanks for the updates, everyone. I’ll review the first half after watching the rest of this game, but it seems I should avoid the 2nd quarter entirely.

  27. Matt thats true but thats a copout, when you go on the road you expect to get contact with no whistles so you adjust your play and toughen up. It’s what veteran teams do . . . but the Lakers haven’t this year, hence their road record.

  28. Lakers8884: Wasn’t making an excuse, just stating that they haven’t been getting any whistles. They’re getting more vehement in their complaining, which is likely to earn us a tech or two and slow down getting back on defense.

    Kobe and Fish have both stayed behind on plays to complain about non-calls.

  29. Is it just me or have we been especially terrible in 2nd qtrs this year? I know we haven’t played especially well down the stretch of quite a few games, but the bad 2nd qtrs really seem to stand out. We’ve wasted so many good starts to games.

  30. Well notes, I can tell you that the Lakers are usually good for 1 poor quarter in each game they play. Many have come in the fourth, and first quarters have usually been a good one.

  31. That’s what’s frustrating, Joe. We waste so many poor starts and let teams back into way too many games. Let’s see how they respond in the 2nd half…

  32. I think this is going to have to be one of those games that we rely on Kobe a bit. Not saying he has to take over the game, but we need him to step up big here in this second half.

  33. Our bigs have got to finish, Kobe cant put them in any better position to score

  34. Love Lamar’s activity tonight

  35. Our bigs finally coming alive! Gotta love that one handed dish from Pau to Kobe for the flush

  36. Without being able to use the first half as a reference, I have no clue if it’s been like this all night, but I really like the pace of this 3rd quarter. The Lakers are controlled and working things around. Their patience has directly led to most of their buckets this period.

  37. Darius: This pace is more similar to the first quarter. The second quarter saw the Lakers pressing for pretty much no reason.

  38. chicago is playing really well

  39. If Rose is hitting 3s like this they are unbeatable

  40. Maybe both guards shouldn’t come off of the guy on the 3-point line every time Boozer touches the ball.

    Just a thought.

  41. “Measly 8-18″ from Kobe eh? I think I’d take that now

  42. Ok… let’s have that comeback.

  43. That is freaking pathetic, make smart passes good lord

  44. Man, could the Lakers try a few more low-percentage passes tonight?

  45. Apparently, this is not Denver, so there must not be any reason to be this winded. 16 TOs. We must find a way to get out with a W.

  46. If I were Phil I would give this team two more offensive possessions if they dont get it under 6 you’ve gotta bring Kobe and Lamar back in.

  47. Lakers will not convince me they can 3 peat this year until they start winning some of these harder road games. We are yet to pull out that big win on the road this year.

  48. Giving up two offensive rebounds the past two possessions on defense. That is one of the biggest reasons why they have been horrible at coming back this year . . . And they cant get stops

  49. How the heck is that not a clear path foul? Jeff van Gundy and all the officials should open their [expletive]ing eyes.

  50. are you kidding me with that rose shot? wow

  51. Nice defense Matt, lay off the best 3 point shooter in the NBA and let him run a shooting drill.

  52. ^ I thought that was Shannon Brown.

  53. #51: For a second I thought that was directed at me. ;-)

  54. #51. If I’m thinking of the same play you are, he was caught down low hedging in to help on a Rose drive while Korver circled back to the top for the catch and shoot. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have stuck with Korver, but he wasn’t just lost out there. Tough choices on defense when the floor is space and an elite penetrator has the ball.

  55. Lets pray the Spurs find a way to lose or else we are going to go 4 games behind….ouch

  56. (expletive) me – that was some shot by Derrick Rose again.

  57. good comeback, but a big big clutch shot by Rose.

    Good defense by Fisher and Pau though, but a better shot…

  58. Derrick Rose is pissing me off.

  59. Yeah Darius that is the same play, but honestly I’d rather settle for Rose driving into the lane and getting help from a big rather than Matt leaving Korver wide open.

    Anytime Rose drives down the lane he should be fouled and forced to shoot free throws instead of getting uncontested layups. Poor basketball IQ

  60. Turnovers and poor shooting did us in again.

    That’s two consecutive games being held under 90 – and one of those games was against the Clippers.

    Our defense wasn’t TOO bad tonight other than leaving Derrick Rose with no one in his zipcode behind the arc. Yeah, he’s not the greatest 3point shooter, but he’s not the worst either.

  61. Huge defensive breakdown on that D-Rose layup, prior to his J.

  62. Brewer would hit 2 free throws as a 59% shooter while Kobe would only hit 1. Of course

  63. Joe,
    Unfortunately, you and I are probably the only ones that care about HCA. It’s that arrogant attitude by the team and most of its fans that makes them not give a rat’s ass about losing because it’s just “one game out of 82, no big deal”. In fact, it’s that same “ho hum, we lost” attitude that will probably cause this board to be flooded with the typical cliches that fans use as excuses for losing. Let’s see, what will tonight’s be? Hmmm… how about, “teams always get pumped to play us”? Or “we have a huge bullseye on our back”? Honestly, I just thinks teams are better than us right now. Period. Will that change? I hope so, but who knows?

  64. Our guys did well to fight back from a 13 point deficit with 4 mins to go. The Rose fallaway and bad turnovers killed us in the end. Our reserves can’t have a horrendous offensive stretches like they did in the 2nd quarter and at the beginning of the 4th. I’d like to see Steve Blake attack the basket more and see LO get into the lane.

  65. The lakers sure are great at helping other teams break bad streaks this season against them, Chicago hadnt beaten them in 4 years and allowing Indiana to beat them earlier in the year. (while teams like Boston and Dallas are ending other teams streaks).

    I hate to say this but the Lakers are just not a good team right now, they are no different than the Heat, beating up on the bad teams but unable to get a signature win against one of the elites of the league. I hope Bynum can fix some of these issues when he comes back, but losing ground on teams like Boston, Dallas and San Antonio scares the crap out of me (specifically Boston). The sky isn’t falling but the Lakers need to pick it up.

  66. Dec. 14th. If the Lakers play the same way when our team is back at “full” strength, then ill start worrying.

    Otherwise, chicago played well/better than the lakers did.

    On a side note: BILL SIMMONS AS A COMMENTATOR FOR THE HEAT GAME

  67. Paging Andrew Bynum…you are needed in the emergency room.

  68. #63. I wouldn’t call it arrogance as much as taking the long view. Of course HCA matters and those that say it doesn’t are just as foolish as those that clutch onto it as the *only* thing that matters. I feel if you find yourself in either of those camps you’ve probably got too narrow a view on the NBA.

  69. Wow, the team has already lost 7 games and they’ve only played 3 teams so far with a winning record. That’s sad. And embarrassing.

  70. Notes, I agree with what your saying, but the team has won 2 championships in a row. They were playing horrible at the end of last season and then just “flipped the switch” going into the playoffs. I am totally with you they have to start picking it up because home court to me is critical this year because the West is so much deeper this year. But I have faith this team can pick it up, but they have to start beating some of these better teams, especially on the road.

  71. Noles, I harp on HCA all year you can ask anyone on here. I think it is the most underrated aspect of playoff basketball. I would argue that it is almost as important as getting Bynum back, that sounds crazy but think about it the Lakers have made it to 3 Finals the past 3 years (winning 2 of course) without having Bynum is essence. In two of those years the Lakers had HCA against whoever they played, and the one year they didn’t Boston beat them.

    People can say it isn’t a big deal, but I for one would rather play in a warzone than to play in Boston with the team they have this year in a game 7.

  72. Joe, I agree. I don’t think anyone has lost faith or should lose faith. No, the “sky is not falling”. And I’m pretty sure everyone is still confident that we can win a 3rd title in row. The thing that frustrates me is that it seems like there’s not a “every game matters” attitude. Because if you’re a competitor, every game does matter! Of course, no team is going to win every game, but losing to teams they should beat should piss them off. Now we’re not in the locker room, so maybe it does piss them off. But if so, you would think that they’d be angry to the point where they say enough is enough and fix the problems they’re having.

  73. Lakers8884, yes you do mention it all the time. I remember a lot of your comments about it.

    Sorry, I wasn’t implying that nobody cares about HCA. I was simply trying to point out that we can’t continue to lose games we shouldn’t and have the “it’s just one loss out of 82 games” attitude because HCA is important. Absolutely necessary? Of course not. But I’d rather have it than not.

  74. Well LA as a great quote says “who we thought they were”. A hot 1st quarter turned into a bad 2nd and 3rd for a push in the 4th that falls short. Its like watching ice melt when you already know the outcome. 13 points from the bench will not cut it on the road if LA plans to come off this road trip with at least a .500 record. The bench that started off as the “Killer Bees” has turned into the “Three Stooges”. An inconsistent bunch that has to bring it, or LA will struggle as the return and acclimation of Bynum is weeks away. Stll love my boys just had to vent, Im out.

  75. Home court advantage is nice to have and one of the goals for this team. Kobe, Fisher and Phil Jackson knows what it to win a game 7 on the road. The Lakers have yet to play with their starting five. Bynum might be back the Washington game and when he is back the Lakers rotation will change giving Phil Jackson more options with the line up. Gasol should be able to get more rest during the game and be fresher in the 4thQ

    Turnovers, poor passing and another team hot from 3 (Bulls were 47.1% to Lakers 23.1%) were some of the reasons for another close Lakers loss. The Lakers have yet to be blown out of a game but these close losses are a little frustrating.

  76. @ noles

    was this a game we were supposed to win? The Bulls are a pretty good team, especially now with Boozer back.

  77. The Bulls were hot from 3 because all their looks were wide open.

    Lakers simply got outplayed tonight.

  78. Noles,

    step away from the ledge man

    The Lakers are not playing great ball right now. But then again, 2 weeks ago they were playing championship caliber ball.

    Once we get some players back, like Bynum, then we will see what’s going on. remember this lakers team was ranked 11th or 12th in the “power rankings” going into the playoffs last year. That’s how horribly they ended the season. This was of course right before they went on to win the 2nd of their back to back championships.

    Ready for a cliche…step away from the ledge, life is worth living, look at all you have to live for!!!!!!!!!!!

  79. Ron Artest scored 2 points. He is 3 for 19 the past 2 games. He is now shooting 35 per cent which makes him last in the entire NBA of any starting player. No wonder the Lakers have only beaten one team with a winning record this year. Artest is the worst offensive player in the NBA and if Phil doesn’t wake up and start Matt this team will remain the 4 th seed in the west and never make it to the finals. Ron still thinks he can shoot and isn’t smart enough to stop shooting. He is killing this team.

  80. Ken, I suggested that a few nights ago myself. Matt has much more to offer right now that Ron. Sure he can sometimes play great defense, although I think it has been spotty this season so far, his offense has absolutely killed this team. Moving him to the bench allows him to gun whenever he wants without effecting the real momentum of the game. Heck even starting Shannon would be better right now.