Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Bulls

Darius Soriano —  January 20, 2014

After beating the Raptors in a come from behind effort that highlighted the team’s willingness to battle even when down, the Lakers continue their road trip with an evening game in the City of Wind. The Lakers are now 2-1 since departing LA for their 7 game adventure and look to be coming together at a time right when they looked most like they were falling apart.

Maybe the Nick Young suspension and subsequent locker room rumblings about the team not playing for or having each other’s backs has something to do with it. Maybe it is just the product of some hot shooting from the outside while Gasol continues to find his game in the post. Or maybe it is just the fact that you really can’t lose every game in this league, regardless of the limitations your roster has. In any event, the Lakers are on a bit of a “hot” streak and will look to carry over that momentum into Chicago.

They will face a Bulls team that has split their last 4 games but one that has won 10 of their last 15. After going through a rough patch in the early to middle part of December, the Bulls have pulled it together and are 5th in the East (despite being a game under .500). This group plays a familiar style, grinding teams down with a top level defense even though the roster isn’t the one we’re used to seeing. Derrick Rose came back to start the year but is on the shelf again after tearing the meniscus in his knee. Luol Deng was recently traded to the Cavs (as we all know — he torched the Lakers in their last home game before the road trip began). The Bulls still have Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Taj Gibson but are relying more and more on third year pro Jimmy Butler (especially after the Deng trade) and first year Bulls D.J. Augustin and Mike Dunleavy Jr.

The Bulls, like the Lakers, are at an interesting crossroads however. Despite being firmly in the playoff mix, the Bulls must be seriously thinking about their future more than their present. Derrick Rose is hurt and Deng has been traded. Boozer isn’t long for this roster and whether he’s traded or amnestied in the coming off-season, it’s doubtful he is wearing the red and black next year. That only leaves Noah and Butler as core pieces for today and the future to go along with whatever draft pick they select this summer and the promising Nikola Mirotic who will likely come over from Europe next season. This has the chance to be a promising group to surround Rose, but that may also mean they start to dump assets who don’t fit into that core for pieces or cap space to help strengthen a roster not yet constructed.

That’s looking ahead, though. Tonight these two teams face off and, depleted rosters or not, both will compete hard to try and get this win.

For the Lakers, that will mean trying to continue with model that’s gotten them their past two wins. They will try to go to Gasol in the post against Noah, hoping to establish the offensive paint and get the types of good looks that not only create points but a commitment from extra defenders that will lead to open three pointers. With Pau’s ability to pick out open players on the wing and the perimeter players’ willingness to move the ball, the Lakers will then try to hit threes at a rate that can keep them ahead of a team that has the ability to play stifling defense.

Key to this will be the play of Nick Young, Jodie Meeks, and rookie Ryan Kelly. When the Lakers flank Pau and Marshall with this trio, they should be able to create the spacing that can lead to points. But that all falls through without the aforementioned trio hitting shots and being aggressive with their dribble when defenders close out at them hard. The Bulls are active defensively and will not miss many (if any) rotations so this group will need to be sharp in their decision making and lean on Gasol (and Young) to get makable shots in isolation when the clock is running down. The fact that these two will be facing off against strong defenders (Noah and Bulter) doesn’t make their jobs easy, but they will still need to perform.

On the other end of the floor, the Bulls aren’t a good offensive team and mostly rely on ball movement when running their O through their bigs to create points. Boozer and Noah can both pass well from the elbow and will serve as pressure release options out of the P&R where they will either shoot mid-range jumpers or kick to the corners to shooters when the Lakers’ D rotates. This will require active feet from the wings, moving towards Noah, Boozer, and Gibson when they make catches at the elbows and then rotating back to Dunleavy, Augustin, and Butler circling around the arc so as to not give up wide open threes. The Lakers’ bigs will also need to be their best on the glass tonight as the Bulls trio at PF and C will crash the boards hard and try to get easy baskets via put backs.

All in all, this is a winnable game for the Lakers but they will need to bring energy and smarts on both ends. The Bulls will outwork them if they bring anything less.

Where you can watch: 5pm start on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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73 responses to Preview and Chat: Lakers vs. Bulls

  1. Great write up Darius, the Bulls cant defend but cant score but the Lakers being the humanitarians they are probably will allow them 110 points. Hope im wrong. I posted this response to Warren and Robert in the prior post so please forgive me: @ Warren neither Boston or Toronto are good, they would be as bad or worse than the Lakers if they were in the West.@ Robert after the injuries an seeing this team doing its best to allow 130 points to the opponent they just beat the optimist out of me. We might get more interesting once we get some guys back but the grave is dug, we just need to lower the casket…

  2. Fern,

    Do not despair. Good summary, Darius.

    Go, Lakers.

  3. The Bulls average like 50 per game only. I have a feeling that they’ll score 100 tonight.

  4. Renato-I am happy to read your posts, please join us more often. Marshall is indeed a horrific defender: Whether or not the cause is due to conservation of energy or lack of attention to the defensive end remains to be seen. He lacks the fire of Blake, Farmar or even Harris, however he is a throwback point guard and that’s just fine for a 2nd or 3rd string guard with an upside.

    Re: Nash: I recognize that Nash’s injury is a nerve problem. My comment about Nash not being there to assist any of the Lakers guards is predicated upon the fact that he IS in Canada. He can’t offer any advice during practice or during the game from the locker room or across the border.

    rr-I like your thinking, Kelly works best with a rim protector.

    Robert-” So if Kevin shows him some “Love” – then he is in. However if everyone is more “Melo” towards him – he should be out.” Great play on words!!!! Excellent posts.

    I’ll always cheer for the rotation players on the team; particularly players that are drafted by the Lakers and actually prove that they have knowledge of the game. On that note, Kelly is not the second coming of Larry Bird, but who cares! He is an unknown commodity on the Lakers that is working to earn a sustainable NBA career and so far, he has been instrumental in the Lakers past two victories against the least in the league. I don’t care what Clark or McRoberts are doing on other teams while they were Lakers I supported their efforts.

    Stars in the NBA are stars due to their reliability, what’s there to wonder about what they do. Prior to these players becoming stars their management and fans had to endure inconsistency, lowered expectations, and lack of experience.

    On defense tonight Ryan Kelly will be tested by Carlos Boozer, but so will Boozer. Ryan’s length may affect Carlos jumper, but down low Ryan will get brutalized. Carlos is about as poor a defender that one will find in the NBA at the power forward position, so Ryan should not hesitate in taking it to Boozer on offense.

  5. How bad a defender is Pau?

  6. Kobe has been wearing a lot of black on the sidelines. Mourning?
    Lakers go down on the strength of a 10-0 run by the Bulls. Nice 3 by Manny Harris!

  7. Paul offers absolutely no resistance at the basket! Don’t think I’ve ever seen him give a hard foul.

  8. 31 one points allowed in the 1st quarter to a Bulls team that cant score on pace to give them 124 points. Yep

  9. The Lakers defense, the gift that keeps on giving lol

  10. Manny Harris definitely has some offensive chops! Go Nick Young! Doing a Kobe-lite!!

  11. I agree on Harris. Guy has moves. Forces shot but a 10 day contract is like hiring a temp at my company. They try too hard.

  12. Not to bash Pau, but the defense looks a lot better when he’s on the bench! Hill and Sacre at least present a little challenge at the rim.

  13. Wow someone still wear cornrows in the NBA?

  14. I got a man-crush on Nick Young!

  15. Good half of basketball. Team on the floor is competing. Don’t know if I can ask much more of such a depleted roster.

  16. I got a man-crush on Nick Young!

  17. Nice half by Marshall. 3 TO with zero points?

    Young really needs to come back next year.

  18. Purple…
    In a dismal season, Nick provides some entertainment and some exciting plays!! Hope he stays with the team next year and beyond.

  19. Kenny,
    I couldn´t agree more.

  20. Like i said in other post, outside Kobe everybody but Nick Young is expendable in my opinion, he should be a Laker for a long time.

  21. Dunlevey is Kelly with better hair.

  22. Have to admit, the rook is playing great.

  23. Meeks not good on fast breaks. Just bad pass after bad pass.

  24. Sweet J. Hill. Sweet.

  25. When i feel at the lowest level of confidence on this team they gonand pick me up. Really happy about the team play and effort overall and they have allowed only 38 points since that 1st quarter, cant ask for more.

  26. How many days Harris contract have left?

  27. What in the world offense is being played. Adjustments Mike! They are doubling every time and you have no plan?

  28. Kenny T-Kobe has been wearing a lot of black on the sidelines. Mourning?

    I thought the exact same thing, but it could also imply that he’s in Black Mamba mode.

    Fern-The Lakers defense, the gift that keeps on giving lol


  29. Marshall is for sure a D- Leaguer tonight.

  30. Minus 11 in total rebounding and the Bulls have 18 off rebounds. Good Lord.

  31. Minus 11 in total rebounding and the Bulls have 18 off rebounds. Good Lord. Pau steppin up big we are ahead somehow.

  32. Nick as Cool as J from the stripe.
    Definitely wouldn’t mind a lil OT. Exciting game.

    And Overtime it is.

  33. hope we don´t run out of gas in the OT

  34. Pau made me eat my earlier comments as he played an outstanding defensive and all-around game tonight. Swaggy P. Forces OT!!

  35. I like Manny Harris.

    Lakers will win this in overtime.

  36. Nice move by Nick the Quick!

    Come on coach you can go offense with Kelly, and defense with Sacre or Hill.

    I still believe that the Lakers will win!

    Come on Lakers stop running the same play!!!

    Someone has to step up and be clutch to win this game.

    Let’s go Lakers!

  37. Pau is just like a girl out there fumbling, bumbling and standing flat footed.

  38. Love that Swaggy J

  39. ouch

  40. Wow .. Longest 0.9 I’ve ever seen in my life.

  41. Pau just lost the game with his. 90 year old play. Time to trade this guy before he can’t stand up.

    4 TO and child’s defense

    Also out coached on last place.

    Stupid having Pau guarding out of bounds play. Not smart !

  42. Also terrible game for Marshall. 3 points 6 TO on 6 assists and very bad defense on a reserve guard.

  43. Good game!

  44. KO cut the crap
    20/20 plus 5blocks. Where in the league are you gonna find that?
    The guy has his flaws, we all know that, and is past his prime. But i repeat 20/20

  45. Ko is right. Time to trade Pau while his trade value is still high.

  46. Your right Joe he was clearly tired. Played to many minutes. Perhaps a little Kamen might have helped in last 10 minutes. Hated to see them lose this one.

  47. Ko I agree I also hated to loose this one, and it s easy to become emotional with the guy defending the ball. (Pau)
    And I understand it s the anger, but above all, its impossible to catch, step and shoot in 0.09.
    Chicago’s staff bribe this one from us.

  48. Mike Bresenhan headline

    New way to lose subbing d-league Harris to guard Gibson on out of bound play.

  49. wesley johnson,you’re slowly but surely working yourself out of starters minutes. can’t say i blame the coach in not putting you in the last defensive stand; or for the majority of the second half. what’s suppose to be your fortay? you got the size, the speed, the hands. you’re not the rookie; you’re not the d-leaguer. where you going? where’s your head? you’re better than that.
    aren’t you? .09, coach turns to the d-leaguer.

    and yet, we almost won the game.

    Go lakers

  50. Why didn’t coach put Hill and Sacra in game on last play instead of soft Kelly and a D-League guard trying to stop a guy 4 inched taller?

  51. Anonymous,

    Good point. A situational substitution–bringing in Hill and Sacre for defense there at the end of the game–would have worked wonders, I think.

    I thought that Chicago’s defense in OT won the game. They forced turnovers. They made several key stops. I also thought that MDA got slightly out-coached in this game. Chicago seemed to have a better strategy at the end of the game…especially on defense.

    Even so, the Lakers’ collective mindset seems to be turning around. They have a lot of fight in them. And more confidence, too. Now they’ve got to keep it up.

    On to Miami.

  52. Word is Dan D told Harris to play behind his guy. I guess my years of watching, coaching and playing the game has been wrong. I was taught to force the ball away not toward the basket.

    No wonder these guys are so bad on defense with the D brother calling the shots.

  53. The Lakers clearly did not have their best defensive squad in the game at the end. Sacre, J. Hill, W. Johnson should all have been in the game at that point. The Lakers’ player management (i.e., substitutions or lack thereof) was very poor. And it cost us the game.

    Even so, there are some positive things to take away from this game, heart-breaking though the loss may be. They should be that much more motivated and be prepared to move on.

  54. Agreed but bad coaching is tougher to take then bad play.

  55. Ummm… Pau had 20 points and 19 rebounds. (and 5 blocks.) Why are we down on his play tonight?

  56. I’m not sure what we all expected, but switching from Hill (our best rebounder) to Kelly and going up against one of the harder working teams and better rebounding teams in the league was pretty much bound to lead to a huge rebounding disparity. we’re probably lucky the disparity wasn’t worse than it ended up being

  57. The Chicago announcers were impressed by the play of Pau–especially at the end when he dueled with Noah on nearly every possession. They were speculating earlier on who the Lakers might want to go after for free agency: couldn’t think of anyone better than Pau. Couldn’t understand why the Lakers would even consider trading him.

    Neither could I.

  58. #HealthyPauGasol20/19/5

  59. Don’t let his recent string of games fool you. If he can keep up this production for the rest of the season, great. But I would rather let another team figure that out and see if lakers can get draft picks or young players for him.

  60. Tough, tough loss. The team played so hard that this loss really stings. In a 2 point loss, it’s easy to point the finger at a dozen plays that could have made a difference. I’d prefer to look on the bright side and give the players credit for a great effort on the second game of a back to back.

  61. I would offer Nick Young something like 5M x 4 right now. Right now. I want to see him for 4 more seasons as a Laker!

  62. I see in a story by Mark Medina MD blames the team on that last play. Ummm I guess Harris the 10 day player put himself in the game instead of Hill or Johnson.

    That should go over well with the guys who worked so hard in Chicago!

    Has the guy ever admitted a mistake in his life ?

  63. Nick Young: He is entertaining (I refuse to use the word “fun” for the remainder of this year). That said – before we enter into another contract we might regret – we should see how he plays when he is alongside Kobe, whom we will have for the next 2 1/2 years. Nick would be a perfect off the bench, instant offense type guy. I can’t see him playing alongside Kobe. They will mix about as well as Magic and another Nick.
    P Ami: From prior thread. I am not an advocate for Melo. However we need talent and we need talent who actually wants to play here (he probably does not want to). We have the Pacific Ocean, we have our uniforms, we have our history, and we have space. However all of that would be true no matter who ran the team. Im looking for a value add where Jim, Mitch, and Mike, show that they can acquire and “retain” marquee players.

  64. WWL: I would offer Nick Young something like 5M x 4 right now. Right now. I want to see him for 4 more seasons as a Laker!

    Nick Young was the FO’s best move of the offseason. He is a starter/6th man that the Lakers picked up for essentially nothing. I think he has played himself into a contract that in terms of years and value that will exceed what the Lakers are able to provide (likely $5 or $6M/year) . (edited for trade speculation)

    Young is 28, with likely a three year window before he begins his decline. Retaining him eats cap space and quite frankly makes the Lakers better than they should be for the next 2 years.

    The new CBA makes it impossible for teams, like the Lakers, to straddle the line between remaining competitive and rebuilding. Trying to do so puts you squarely in no man’s land. The FO has to decide before the trading deadline which direction they are going. Pau, Young and Hill have real value to teams looking to win it this year. If we keep them it means the FO wants to try and sign them to team friendly contracts this summer to surround Kobe. To me that is a recipe for mediocrity.

  65. Very quietly Pau has put together an impressive run which has lifted his per game averages to the upper tier of NBA centers. It’s a shame that the Lakers have imploded as his game would definitely have held up for the two years of Kobe’s extension. With the team in facing so many challenges he simply is not a good fit for the Lakers moving forward. However, it would not shock me that a number of GMs have noticed Pau’s play of late and would love to get their hands on him for the playoffs.

  66. Connery: “makes the Lakers better than they should be for the next 2 years. ” You are suggesting a multi-year “tank”. I also see some merit in this, however others are not so keen on the idea.
    And of course the team on the floor always tries to win. This refers to FO moves with the roster.

  67. I havent commented since before the end of the game because i cant still wrap my head around leaving gibson a clear path all the way to the basket with 0.9 left. All the good that the team did during the game including Pau monster game was wasted on one of the most basic plays in the game of basketball, the inbound pass. Really Really ticked off about that bs. I mean like really angry.

  68. Me to Fern. Johnson and Hill sit and a D league player goes in to play in BACK of a 6″7 ” guy. Basketball for dummies. And then the coach says it was the teams fault. Surprised he didn’t blame the fans!

  69. I dont that was the coach and if a coach tell me to play behind a guy in that situation i go ” screw him” and do it the right way. MDA is not a defensive genius we all know that but i reeallly doubt set that play like that. That was just a moron blowing his defensive assigment.

  70. Word is that Dan D told him to play behind to stop. 3 point shot.

  71. Ko – “No wonder these guys are so bad on defense with the D brothers calling the shots.”


    Now, we were there at the end of the game and that says something.

    Was I wrong about Kelly? Maybe. He seems like a nice player.

    Guess what? A lot of NBA players can shine if given minutes, which leads right away to confidence. Most of the guys in the league were the best guys on their high school or college teams

    But putting in Harris ahead of Hill or Johnson for a defensive stand and then probably telling him to stand outside his man – quite frankly, freaks me out, for lack of a better phrase.

    Dantoni re Kelly: “There’s no substitute for smarts. And he’s got smarts.”

    Is he calling Kaman and Hill stupid?

    The Dantoni system, his mumbling approach and his mistreatment of legitomate pros like Kaman and Hill is a disgrace.

  72. Yep JC

    He disrespected
    The fans ( find another team)
    The team. (Last play was their fault)

    Must be nice to throw everyone else under the (Buss)

  73. I’ve really liked what the Lakers have done this year. The team was configured to be a outside contender for the playoffs if healthy. Unfortunately injuries plagued the team this year. But even so the team’s outlook to improve looks bright. Kelly (whom I was the only person predicting he would be a starter this year when he was drafted) has been a bright spot. Young was a great discovery, Farmar made a big difference while healthy. The team looking at not making the play offs has desirable trade chips for Playoff bound teams like Hill or Kaman. I’ve seen people suggesting trade Gasol to a contender but thats not likely as that would mean the other team would have to gut their roster. More likely a trade would involve a team looking to start over. Most likely Gasol finishes the year in Purple. I don’t see any big names that wouldn’t start fans howling at giving out a max contract to in free agency. But I think next year will have a lot of possibilities in the mid-tier player market.

    On a whole I’m very pleased with the organization this year. They scraped together a viable play off team on a shoe string budget. Collected valuable trade chips for the situation they now face of not making the play offs. Will see what Mitch can do. The team will likely get a nice draft pick this year and will have the financial flexibility over the next 2 years to go out and get more talent on the roster. From the outset the Lakers had a plan to benefit the organization no matter how things panned out.