Bulls/Lakers: Opening Day Loss

J.M. Poulard —  December 25, 2011

The Los Angeles Lakers played their home opener today against the Chicago Bulls in what was an incredibly thrilling game.

The Lakers were defeated 88-87 as the reigning 1st team All-NBA guards both had a chance to win the game for their respective teams late in the fourth quarter.

Granted, the story of the game involved more than just Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant.

Indeed, during an incredibly short preseason, the Lakers showed two flaws that could easily be corrected one would assume, but that are still problematic so far.

It’s obvious that the purple and gold are currently out of sync on offense and that has translated into turnovers. Plenty of them.

Mike Brown’s squad coughed the ball up 17 times against the Bulls, which resulted in 17 points off turnovers. Although the team lacks a bit of rhythm, one would have thought that the ball security issues that surfaced during the preseason would be addressed; but clearly such is not the case so far.

Kobe Bryant was guilty of eight miscues; most of which came when he dribbled or tried to pass the ball when trapped or in traffic. Perhaps Bryant is still trying to figure out when and how to feed his teammates given that he also had seven turnovers against the Clippers in the Lakers’ first preseason contest.

Nonetheless, his inability to hold onto the ball cost the Lakers late.

With 20 seconds left in the game, the Lakers had the ball at midcourt with a one point lead. They inbounded to Kobe who was expecting to get fouled near midcourt but Chicago instead trapped Bryant and forced a bad pass, which led to Derrick Rose converting the go-ahead bucket with four seconds left on the game clock.

The Black Mamba still had the opportunity to redeem himself as the Lakers called timeout to set up a play for their star. Bryant caught the ball at the top of the key and blew by Luol Deng to get in the lane for a lay-up that the Bulls’ small forward recovered to block from behind.

Although the miscues were part of the reason that the Bulls emerged with the victory, they were also aided by Los Angeles’ inability to defend the 3-point line. On Christmas day, Chicago converted seven-of-15 3-pointers (46.7 percent from 3-point percentage). Derrick Rose was four-of-six from deep and made most of his long-range shots off the dribble.

The Lakers will have to put this loss behind them quickly since they will be moving on to play the Kings tomorrow night. Nonetheless, Brown’s unit had a six-point lead with less than 50 seconds left in the game and allowed Chicago to steal the game from them.

The Lakers were on their way to a victory it seemed, because they did a solid of job of on the boards, outrebounding a physical Bulls frontline 42-41; and also because they benefitted from some solid play from Steve Blake (12 points on four-for-nine shooting).

Kobe Bryant may have had some trouble holding onto the ball in this game, but he was his usual self as far as scoring against the Bulls. He made jumpers from different areas on the court, took the ball to the basket and got fouled.

Part of the reason that Chicago remained within striking distance throughout can be attributed to the absence of Andrew Bynum who is currently serving a four-game suspension.

Normally the Lakers would have three scorers to carry the load but on this night they had to rely heavily on the exploits of Kobe given Joakim Noah’s tough defense on Gasol. The Spaniard scored early in the game on the block but slowly drifted out to the perimeter as Noah kept pushing him out outside of the paint.

Worth noting, Matt Barnes did not play in this game, as Devin Ebanks and Metta World Peace got all of the minutes at small forward.

J.M. Poulard


to Bulls/Lakers: Opening Day Loss

  1. Addition by subtraction! Good defense with exception of Fisher and Metta. Could be a contender if Lakers released these two. Can’t shoot, can’t defend, can’t play. Eubanks and Blake please.


  2. Not sure it would have made a difference, but how does Barnes get no minutes??


  3. Hey, if exactly one year ago today, this coaching staff, roster and box score was put in front of any of us, there would be a collective,
    “whut?” Turnovers and sloppiness aside, I liked it. Good energy and desire. And two more games in two more nights.


  4. I was at the game and i think more needs to be mentioned on judt how horrendous pau was in the second half, bricked 2 free throws, ticky tack foul for the and one, didnt rotate out of the paint on kobes drive thus opening up the lane, was frequently beat to rebounds and did not rebound in traffic. And the final turnover by kobe was a result of pau not coming to the ball and instead waiting on it to get to him.

    Granted noah is probably the se ond best post defender in the nba, especially 1 on 1, but pau is supposed to and has been a top 15 talent, who since that hot start to last year has been frequently put off his game by everythimg. Ut a strong wind, hr needs to step up.


  5. I am wondering about Barnes, how has gone from starter to DNP in such a short period of time? I am certainly glad to be seeing Ebanks with the nod, but still wondering about Barnes.


  6. I liked what I saw out of Murphy today. McRoberts was good as well, but I expected what he gave us. Murphy’s energy on tipouts was a nice surprise. Wish we could find time for both of them with Bynum healthy, Murphy’s shooting and energy on the boards could end up being more valuable than McRoberts’ contributions.

    Kobe’s hand worries me going forward. He’s making do with such a poor handle. But as one poster said, there’s not many options. I kind of wish he’d rest it, but 4 weeks out in a shortened season could be disastrous.

    I think Brown’s just going to experiment with the lineup for a while. Morris and Barnes were DNPs, but I’d expect to see them get solid minutes at some point. Artest looks so bad right now. He really needs to get on the treadmill and pull that losing-weight act again.

    Breen and Van Gundy fawning over Mark Jackson is a little nauseating. Shockingly, though, I find myself hoping he actually finds moderate success as a coach. Just enough to not get fired, because it is SO nice not to have to listen to Jackson on broadcasts. Hopefully someone hires Magic as a coach soon too.


  7. At game. Really positive notes – Ebanks was semi-poised on offense and fluid in his midrange shot; McRoberts has tremendous energy and bounce (doesn’t seem to have any set plays, but lots of dunks and big moves off broken plays); Murphy hit open shots from range (seems like a bounce-back year); both prior mentioned bigs rebounded well; and Blake definitely was playing as if it is his bounce-back year as well. Was a killer to be there as they threw it away, but was happy to see we had to throw it away to lose to Chi, without even having access to Bynum. With him ? Looks like we’re not dead yet.


  8. Very pleased by the team’s overall performance given the circumstances. Really loved Mcbob and Murphy’s contributions. Impressed by Ebanks and Glock as well. I am also perplexed by Barnes’ DNP and Morris’s did not suit up (dNSU) today as well. I cannot foresee a happy Barnes if he gets no playing time, especially given MWP’s crappy play.

    I can’t wait to see Bynum back with this team. But if personnel moves need to be made, we need another person who can create off the dribble. Who knows how Kobe’s wrist will hold up.


  9. i’m trying to reconcile two things.

    OTOH, seniority doesn’t seem to factor into playing time. Ebanks and Goudelock have received promotions, and Barnes and Kapono have received demotions.

    OTOH, there’s Artest–whose minutes appear to be guaranteed–not playing very well.

    My guess is that the coaches see some untapped potential in Artest. They’re investing minutes in him so he can accelerate his development as a low-post player.

    Hubie Brown brought up the fact that Artest cannot be defended by ordinary SFs down low. I agree. The trouble is he seems to be rushing things when he has the ball; tangentially, he is out of sync with his teammates. Clearly, he is a work-in-progress.

    I think Artest has the potential to be a very productive player for the Lakers, but there’s a risk it will take too long for Ron to realize his potential, or that Ron may never realize it at all.


  10. Free throws at the end of the game!!! Need i say more.


  11. Only saw the box score and have to say I was more than pleased.

    Sure reading about the game afterwards and stuff burst my bubble, but I was expecting a near double digit loss.

    We were without Bynum, with a new coach, with yet another injury to Kobe’s shooting hand, so considering, this was a pretty solid effort and proof that we haven’t suddenly become doormats or the Clippers of old.

    Now I know Kobe isn’t wired this way so I’m wasting bandwidth typing this, but just maybe this wrist injury will make Kobe a bit more choosy on offense and improve his offensive decision-making. Maybe.

    What really worries me is that Pau seems totally out of it with no signs of coming back. I still think he’s worth holding onto, but the thought of losing him AND Bynum for Howard and Hedo is becoming less and less appalling…


  12. I’m not going to lie, that ruined my Christmas for a half hour or so, but upon reflection I actually feel pretty good about the implications of this game.

    It reminds me a lot of the opener of the 2007-08 season. That was a big bummer of an offseason too, when it looked like Kobe was gone, and then there was a crushing opening night loss at home in the last seconds (Battier hit a 3 for Houston) after a great effort.

    Right after that the team picked itself up and played good ball and I’m really hoping to see that.

    I like that Brown seems to have the team playing better each game. I like that no one today really seemed to be playing over their heads – as was the case with Shannon Brown early last year, when it was hard to believe he could really sustain that level of play, and he couldn’t. I think this is what we can legitimately expect from Blake, McRoberts, and Murphy, and those guys are useful in those roles.

    That goes for Ebanks and Goudelock too. I’m sure those guys are going to have their rough spots this year, but I don’t think they’re going to freak out or panic or go into a shell. They can add a lot and it’s heartening to see Brown play some young guys. Hopefully he won’t be afraid to sit Fisher & Metta if they continue to flounder, he certainly didn’t blink at sending Barnes & Luke to the pine.

    These next 3 games are very winnable and 3-1 with Drew coming back would be a great step in the right direction.


  13. Four late missed free throws were the difference. Seeing them lose this way irks me. But like many others have pointed out there are some positives. The sheer hustle on display was wonderful to watch. I really loved seeing Ebanks and McRoberts out there. One thing I lamented a lot last season was the loss of youth on LA’s rosters. As far as I’m concerned Devin and Josh can’t get enough time. Old legs just don’t move like young legs.

    Another point that has been noted is Kobe’s bad ball handling. I really get nervous when I watch him dribble the ball to much on a possession. There is a point when you know he either needs to shoot or give up the ball. It is just instinctive. If he holds it too long he is bound to turn it over. Kobe needs to be off the ball. But that is another conversation for another day. I really wish they could have gotten the W. But I’ll take the effort from the young guys for today.


  14. Wow – this was not good:

    1) Lose the home opener.
    2) 3 more games w/o Drew.
    3) Pau did lot look good. (one of my keys)
    4) Barnes AWOL ??????
    5) 25% from 3
    6) 55% from the line
    7) MWP: 4 pts and 2 rebs in 26 mins
    8 ) Fish 1-5
    9) Kobe re-tweaks the wrist
    10) Complete disarray at the end of the game.

    Now – I was expecting worse, but this type of loss is not “encouraging”, but rather can be demoralizing.

    And yes – there were some bright spots: but again this is only 66 games this year.

    Magic was channeling me at halftime. Summary of what he said:

    A) No chance of making finals with current team.
    B) Made fun of Laker’s new guys and did not know their names properly.
    C) Stated that we should go all out for the Dwight trade including trading Pau and Drew for Dwight.

    Send your responses to Magic if you disagree with A-C; 1-10 above is simple fact.

    If the Lakers were a stock, I would not want to see the chart of the last few weeks.

    That all said – I am not giving up on another title for Kobes, and Magic and I agree on how to get that. Please, Mitch, before Pau’s value plummets.

    When/if I give up on that wish, I might appreciate the fact that Ebanks looked decent, or McRoberts rebounded the ball well, but for now those are just minor subplots that are interesting if you are not a spoiled Laker fan who expects at least a 32nd trip to the Finals in order for the season to be successful.

    Need to win against the Kings.


  15. Tough loss. Moral victory. This teams defense will be fantastic. Young legs/energy, veteran experience, size down low…

    Relax Lakers Nation… we’re going to be just fine. Merry X-Mas to everyone.


  16. ……… When a loss is really a win……

    This was a great loss if you’re a Lakers fan. You outplay a very good team without your All Star Center with almost a completely new team.

    If GLock, Ebanks, Blake, McRoberts, and Murphy are this good the Lakers will win a championship. Obviously Fisher will soon be relegated to the bench witch will eliminate the 4 on 5 basketball you see out there so often.

    I don’t know what some of you are watching with Artest. He played well both offensively and defensivley and gets double teamed more often than Gasol.

    Kobe looks as athletic as he did three years ago and Gasol doesnt look like he has lost anything either. Pau will be a different player when he moves back over to his natural PF position.

    Oh… And the Lakers will soon be bringing back the second best Center in all of basketball. Also don’t forget the Lakers have Lamar’s TE. This season might not be so bad after all 😉


  17. now we’re seeing hope. Move to the next game vs Sac


  18. I know Troy Murphy had injuries last season, but shooter’s skill usually stays (he’s not a player that relies on his athleticism anyway). What I don’t get is he passed up at least 5 open and clean looks for 3-pointers. As a career 43% 3-pt shooter, he really needs to take those shots when he’s open to pull 1 of the opposing bigs out and stretch the D. I wonder if he did it because Mike Brown doesn’t want him taking those shots or is he just like Steve Blake of the ’10-’11s…


  19. Sharky is right – it was a tough loss, a loss and a loss and a loss however way you look at it, but I love the effort we gave.

    Like Hubie Brown said, we’re operating at 50% our offense w/o Bynum and 50% defense without Bynum.


  20. the Grinch just love the Lakers on Christmas eve, as he took their fan joy on the last moment of peace :0.


  21. Things I liked:

    —Kobe looks fluid and his legs are healthy.

    —McBobs played with good energy.

    —Troy Murphy looked better than expected.

    —Good defense for most of the 2nd half.

    Things I did not like:

    —Goudelock shot 2-3 from 3-Point range. The rest of the team shot 2-14. Shooting around 20% from 3 was a major problem in the Dallas series last year.

    — TAFKARA/MWP remains confused on offense and slow on defense

    — Neither McBobs nor Murphy could guard Carlos Boozer.

    — Gasol was getting pushed around, especially by Omer Asik.

    — Any team with a half-decent PG can run a 1-4 spread isolation set (PG at the top of the key, everyone else spreads to the sidelines) and get a decent shot. There’s nothing the Lakers can do about it.

    Finally, the ends of both halves were microcosms of what will bedevil the Lakers this year. In each case, the Lakers had to work very hard to get Kobe a very difficult shot. Conversely, the Bulls took rebounds and/or turnovers and converted them into near-instant (less than 5 seconds) buckets and/or fouls.

    If the Lakers are not the slowest team in the league, they are in the bottom 3, and teams will frequently get easy baskets simply by out-speeding them.


  22. Most things about the game (TOs, Metta, , McRoberts/Murphy, young guys etc.) have already been commented on. I just want to say that if this game is any indication, then I like the way Mike Brown is approaching this season.

    The hedging on pick-and-rolls worked OK against a strong penetrating PG and could be improved by our own lane-clogger waiting to come back from suspension. Last season Bynum didn’t always look great when hedging though, which in my opinion was also a reason of the Lakers going to the defensive scheme of having him sag on pick-and-rolls and just wall off the paint. We’ll see how Brown uses him when defending away from the basket.

    Liked the focus on the ball going down low every other possession, even if it wasn’t always for attempts at the basket. It just helps having the defense collapse a bit and then being able to attack against a close-out instead of a set defender.

    Upon watching Rose’s game winner, my first association was Magic’s junior junior skyhook in Boston. Granted, the angle of the drive to the middle was different and it was as much a flip shot as it could be called a baby hook, but watching the replay almost made Gasol look like Kevin McHale:


    And because I didn’t catch it live, this nice TNT ad for all who missed it as well:



  23. Guys, last year when people were talking about Kobe running the point from time to time I warned about the problem with his handle. And that wrist injury only made it worse…

    Now, about the game, I actually think that MWP will have a very important role with this team. Our starting lineup will have Fish (or Blake), Kobe, Ebanks, Pau and Bynum. Assuming that MWP will be playing with the second unit, we can actually have MWP playing on the block while Murphy steps outside to space the floor. Let’s see if Mike Brown makes that adjustment.

    Contrary to last year’s team, we actually brought some energy and were able to play some defense in the 3rd quarter and part of the 4th. As long as we beat the lesser teams and are able to sneak into the playoffs while avoiding OKC until the Western finals, we should be fine.


  24. • Gasol gets fouled, no call.
    • Two Lakers stand there, hands up, do nothing, two free throws for the Bulls.
    • Deng travels, no call, Bulls score.
    • Kobe drives, gets fouled, no call.

    To be fair, if we made our damn free throws at the end, we would have won with 91. But I’m just tired of horrible officiating deciding games.


  25. Lakers Delegation December 26, 2011 at 5:08 am

    Call me crazy, but I like McRoberts and Murphy more than I like Lamar at this point in his career. At least they’ll bring it every night!


  26. What do I take from the Laker’s 1st game, a loss at home after being up by 10 w/ about 3 mins to go?

    Kobe: turnovers & forced shots
    Gasol: Mr Softee
    movement: none

    I’m afraid Kobe’s wrist will be a problem this season.


  27. Why doesn’t troy murphy shoot 3s? He gave up 5+ open and clean looks…is that by design? His game was never about athleticism –shooting is something that rarely gets worse with age. As a career 43% 3-pt shooter, he really should shoot more threes when left open. That will force 1 opposing big to come out to the 3-pt line and open it up in the middle. I wonder if Mike Brown asked him not to shoot?


  28. the loss is inexecusable – especially given the veteran leadership and coaching. Kobe made a terrific shot at the end of the game, but you can’t rely on him to make a great shot against a great defensive team like the bulls. Other plays had opportunities to step up and did not. The defense was better than I expected, especially since the bulls are the same team as last year, plus rip. That’s a credit to Brown. Kobe seems to have bought in, which is a great sign. Pau’s disappearing act is criminal. He played so well in the beginning. I’m not entirely convinced that bringing Bynum into the mix will improve the lakers to the degree that some people expect. Brown and his 800 assistants will have to come up with some good plays to keep both players involved. (For a second I thought we were dallas. There are a lot of assistant coaches!)
    I was happy to see Brown pushing Pau to be more aggressive on the defensive end. If Brown can inspire Pau, that will have a huge impact on the team, more so than Bynum.


  29. While I hate the loss, especially for the way we lost, I did like a lot of what I saw on the court yesterday. Pau played the way I remembered him playing early last year (at least in the first half), and I’m now reminded why we might want to avoid trading him. 🙂

    Murphy and McRoberts played great. Maybe I had low expectations, but they had energy, confidence, hit some nice shots and did some serious rebounding between them. Neither of them will ever be true starter material, but as back-up big men they’re going to do very nicely. Overall, I thought most of the new guys played with energy and looked hungry out there, which is great, and a well needed energy boost.

    As T. Roberts said, we can’t get the young guys enough minutes… the more rest the older legs can get for later, the better.

    Overall, I feel good about this team. Andrew Bunym was out, and we still almost won against a very good defense and an offense led by Derrick Rose. We’re improving, and will keep improving. We may not win a title this year, but we’re going to be treated to some very entertaining basketball. For now, I’ll live with that.


  30. I watched the Mavs game with particular emphasis on Lamar. Aside from his getting kicked out of the game – a head case two games in a row?? – I thought he was simply LO. He floated a bit to the perimeter, but did contribute to the team. However, I think McRoberts did more for the Lakers than Lamar did for the Mavs. Do I think he is better? No. I do think Lamar wouldn’t fit with this tougher, more direct version of the Lakers than he did under Phil Jackson.

    With money and possible fit issues under Mike Brown, Lamar’s demand to be traded may just have tipped the scales for the F.O. The trade may have just been that simple and we fans just don’t see it.


  31. Goin to the game tonight. I’ll be anxious to see how the effort carries over given the short turnaround. Also anxious to see Brown’s defensive scheme in person. While the loss was damning, the issues appear to be correctable. A bright spot and something that’s been missing the past couple of years is the utilization of the young guys. I mean really when’s the last time a rookie got some burn, let alone 12 minutes in his first game?


  32. It’s been 8 games since the Lakers won a game(4 playoff, 2 pre-season and Sunday).can anyone tell be the last time Gasol or Metta had a good game?

    Pau 37 minutes, 8 rebounds, scared of the ball on Kobe pass and Rose shooting over a 7 foot Pau on last shot.

    Maybe Mitch had it right based on LO’s as many T’s as points start in Dallas and Pau’s once again no show in the 2nd half.

    7-games without a win? Not good!


  33. This was seriously heartbreaking, but I think most of the blame for the last minute collapse goes to Kobe, and a smaller amount to Pau and Coach Brown.

    Obviously Kobe had the late turnover/bad pass, but also on the last play Pau was WIDE OPEN UNDER THE HOOP. Kobe shot very well but didn’t get Pau going, and that hurts the offense. Kobe and Pau had poor chemistry all game and ZERO p&r.

    Pau had a B- game and you just can’t do that when you’re the 2nd best player on the team (least of all with Bynum out). Bricked free throws, lazy 2nd half defense, not moving his feet to Kobe’s pass on the last turnover…looked tired at the end.

    Last, Mike Brown should NOT have gone with Fish to close out. He was ice cold all game and sat almost all of the 2nd half, while Blake was playing strong on both sides of the ball. Stick with who’s playing well! Perhaps it was a nod to Fish’s seniority and leadership, but as a coach, he needs to understand that “playing good ball > intangibles” ALMOST EVERY TIME.

    Losses are a team effort, but the team’s effort deserved to win this game. Ebanks, Goudelock, McRoberts, Murphy, and Blake made the hustle plays and earned their playing time. Barnes might be a better starter w/ Bynum out because he’s their only slasher that forces defense to turn their heads from Kobe/Pau around the rim. Maybe even when Bynum returns?

    I think if MWP adds a simple B move to his offense – catch and shoot, anyone? – it would ultimately force his defenders to commit more often and lead to less head down barreling into broken passes and off- balance shots. Yes, that’s a Big Ass If.


  34. – In the first half, I saw the same Pau that I saw in last year’s regular season.
    – In the second half, I saw the same Pau that I saw in last year’s playoffs.

    – Ebanks has been in a zone since the preseason. Every time he shoots, I expect it to go in (I have the complete opposite feeling when Artest shoots). I would like to see more plays called for Ebanks. Let’s see what this kid can do when he is unleashed.


  35. Ken: Please do not confuse us with the facts 🙂

    MWP: This was another casualty of the LO move. If we did not dump LO, then we could have dumped MWP with our amnesty. Without LO, we could not afford to do that, so we have to hold him until next year, when it will be PEACE OUT with the amnesty clause.

    Mitch: You are correct there. Let’s give Mitch his props on that. How does LO + Pau for Paul look at this point? Wow.

    Pau: I am not sure what others were watching, because I agree – I still do not like the body language, and the 2 missed free throws and the foul at the end were unforgivable.

    To end on a positive: Kobe is a stud. Too many TO’s, but still – 28 puntos after the wrist ligament – wow.

    Need this game tonight desperately for our spirit.


  36. Plaschke is correct – Kobe needs help and more than just Drew.

    I do not agree with the trade ideas however. We need to stay focused on DH. If we can steal DH for Bynum alone, then we can send Pau to NJ for Williams. My new pipedream (Kobe, DH, Williams).


  37. @35 – Plaschke’s at it again, we KNOW the season’s back, haha.


  38. Yesterday was a mixed bag. Lots of positives (Ebanks, McRoberts, Murphy, Glock) and lots of negatives (MWP, Fish, Kobe’s turnovers, Pau’s disappearning act, free throws).

    What yesterday did show was that the move to acquire Chris Paul really was a potentially fantastic move. Watching a Bulls team that has literally no player (aside from Rose) who can create his own shot made clear just how valuable a dominant PG can make you. With a low post presence like Drew, a high energy PF like McRobers/Murphy, and a fast young wing like Ebanks (and some guy named Kobe who wouldn’t have to create his own shots and turn the ball over twice a quarter) this team would have been vastly improved. What a shame that deal did not go through.

    Did the DNP’s for Morris & Barnes have something to do with 3 games in three days? If the Lakers aren’t going to make a significant upgrade at the PG spot (which seems impossible at this point given who is available) it would be very nice to see Morris get a lot more burn. We know what we have in Fish and Blake, and it isn’t pretty. A traditional guard who takes guys off the dribble and creates shots for teammates is precisely what Kobe needs, because it is now clear that between finger and wrist injuries, he will not likely be a good ball handler the rest of the season and when he drives out of control into the lane and gives the ball up, the defensive rotations are out of whack and they give up easy layups in transition.

    Bynum and Pau for Dwight, trade exception to Utah for Millsap, and move Morris and Ebanks to the starting lineup….