While the Los Angeles Lakers were taking on the Bulls in Chicago on Friday night, their G-League affiliates also went against each other at the UCLA Health Training Center.
The South Bay Lakers were 17-11 and were coming off a victory against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Meanwhile, the Windy City Bulls were 13-15 going into this game. The SB Lakers had Thomas Bryant, Ivica Zubac, and Gary Payton II playing for them. The WC Bulls had Antonio Blakeney, who is on a two-way deal with the Chicago Bulls. You probably remember him scoring 15 points for those Bulls against the L.A. Lakers in a November game. He’s a very prolific scorer in the G-League, averaging 34.2 points per game!
The SB Lakers took control right from the jump. We saw them move the ball around beautifully. They made threes early. Ivica Zubac was dominant as he took advantage of his size. The defense was swarming. The SB Lakers went on a 26-3 run and went up, 34-9, early. The WC Bulls were held to 25 percent shooting in the first quarter. Zubac had 11 points in that period.
Still, the WC Bulls made a run behind Antonio Blakeney. They were able to work their way back into the game. Blakeney scored 18 points as the Bulls cut the deficit to 62-54 at the half.
But the SB Lakers were back at it after halftime. The lead went back up to 19 points behind the shooting of V.J. Beachem and G-League veteran Andre Ingram. Zubac continued to dominate on both sides and Gary Payton II did everything else as he ended up getting a triple-double. The South Bay Lakers would take the duke over the Windy City Bulls, 129-116.
The SB Lakers had eight players in double figures, led by Zubac with 25 points, 8 boards, and 5 blocks. As mentioned, Gary Payton II got his triple-double (14-12-11). And Thomas Bryant was moving the ball well; he scored 9 points and had 6 assists. Bryant also had the highest +/- at +16. On the other side, they had a tough time stopping Blakeney, who ended up with 42 big points for the Windy City Bulls.
The Lakers shot 52 percent from the field. They also had the advantage on the boards, 49-35. I had mentioned the ball movement and it showed on the stat sheet; the Lakers had 33 assists compared to the Bulls’ 20. The fast start by the SB Lakers really did a number on their opponents; the Bulls had to play uphill for the rest of the game.
Starting point guard Scott Machado (12 points, 8 assists), who has played a few games with the Houston Rockets, mentioned that there was a conscious effort to get Zubac the ball. It obviously paid off as Zubac had a huge game for them. Veteran Andre Ingram (14 points), who is the career leader in three-pointers in the G-League (he made 4/6 threes in the game), said that coach Coby Karl stressed getting the ball to everybody and also stressed the aggression within the team. Ingram said that they couldn’t be too unselfish and thought they struck the right balance of passing and shooting. He raved on the play of Gary Payton II and liked how he meshed in so quickly with them.
If you wish to watch this game, it will air on Spectrum SportsNet on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 11 AM Pacific.
In the meantime, the South Bay Lakers are 18-11 and second place in the Western Conference. They have won four out of five (their only loss in that span was against the Iowa Wolves) and will take on the Oklahoma City Blue next on Sunday.
*We’d like to thank Noah Camarena, the media relations coordinator of the South Bay Lakers, for giving us this opportunity to cover the team.