NBA / brandon ingram
Lakers Still Slumping, But Manage To Win Over Bulls
My bad mood from the Cavs loss carried over to start this one. On the local LA broadcast, the announcers remarked that the Bulls are the worst offensively ranked team in the league. Funnily enough, they came to play the Lakeshow right as the worst defensive team just left town (Cavaliers). On any normal night, I'd take comfort in that notion about the Bulls, but the last few Laker games have led me to take no value in that assessment - I was even a little worried about how bleak things would be if we lost. That was the mindset of me and many others heading into this game. The game should've been out of reach when the Lakers went up by eighteen in the fourth quarter with 4:30 to play...but a bunch of stupid turnovers coupled with quick buckets by the Bulls saw it shrink to a two-possession game! In the end, the Lakers ended up making enough free throws to pull away, 100-107. Player of the game nod on the Lakers end goes to Lonzo Ball (19 pts, 8 rebs, 6 assists, 2 steals, 8/17 shooting), who provided a severely needed scoring presence in addition to some solid playmaking. Brandon Ingram also had a quietly effective game(16 pts, 9 rebs, 7 assists, 7/13). Jabari Parker (18 pts, 3 rebs, 2 assists, 2 steals) led the Bulls in scoring while Lauri Markannen (17 pts, 3 rebs) made noteworthy contributions as well. It was a necessary win for the Lakers, but I don't think things are really going to change until LeBron comes back. He's probably going to go another week before he gets evaluated again. This team feels like it's on life support, and I don't think it's because they're the league-worst team that they've been playing like. Everyone's just in a shooting slump. Kyle Kuzma is normally a much more potent offensive player, but he's having a hard time finding the bottom of the net. Thankfully, Lonzo, Ingram, and KCP (17 pts) carried the scoring and playmaking load. Take a look at the rhythm of the game and takeaways below! Rhythm Of The Game We were greeted with a change to the starting lineup: Chandler at center over McGee and Pope at shooting guard over Hart. I didn't think the starting lineup was necessarily the problem for the Lakers over this stretch of ugly play - literally everyone was playing badly! The defensive efficiency has been great since LeBron sat with injury (2nd in the NBA since Dec. 25th), but the offensive efficiency has been embarrassing (dead freakin' last). We would soon find out if a starting lineup tinker was the antidote to their ails. In terms of the game's happenings, we quickly found out why the Bulls were the lowest ranked offense (with the LeBron-less Lakers of late not far behind). The score sat at 18-19 Lakers up after one quarter of play thanks to a bunch of clumsy offensive possessions that culminated in rim-attacks on both sides. No three's or points outside the paint until Lance Stephenson sank a deep one to kick off the second quarter. The teams traded leads like nobody's business until the Bulls put some distance between the Lakeshow by six, 30-24. Then the Lakers finally felt a shred of pride and went on a 7-0 run to get back on top in the ballgame, 30-31. Lonzo Ball wasn't doing much with his scoring but he was driving, dishing, defending, and running the offense like he had in his last few performances. His finishing was a little more crisp in this one too. He managed to cop a couple strong dunks and transition layups with multiple defenders draped all over him. The offense felt glaringly clunky, but Lonzo was the lone peg that was making it somewhat work. When all was said and done, the Lakers walked into the locker room at the half with a one-point lead, 43-44. The Bulls were making the Lakers pay in transition, holding a 13-5 advantage in that department. LA was outrebounding Chicago by a healthy margin, 29-22, but 11 first half Laker turnovers (compared to the Bull's 5) would ensure that the first half would stay tight. Onto the third quarter we went. And just like in the first two quarters, Lonzo Ball stepped up as the spirit animal for the Lakers in the third. He managed to make a couple threes for the first time in what seemed like five games, and played determined defense as the Lakers rushed out to an eight-point lead in the first six minutes, 56-48. The three-point shooting of both squads came alive, which turned this into a more balanced ball game fitting of the modern age. LA managed to close it out with an eight-point lead to end the third behind the inspired play of Lonzo Ball(19 points, 8 rebs, 6 assists, 8/15 shooting), 68-76. Lonzo sat in the beginning of the fourth quarter, and our offense must've taken a seat next to him. Brandon Ingram was tasked with running the offense momentarily, to which he did so semi-competently before Svi Mykhailiuk bailed him out with a couple three-balls. Lakers up eleven, 76-87. Nobody was blowup up the box score for the Bulls, but Lauri Markannen led all Chicagoans with 14 points on 5/12 shooting. Jabari Parker also got a couple of pretty dunks off of tricky footwork - which infuriated me! Why were we letting Jabari Parker look like a useful NBA player? Somebody equalize this man. After that pair of Svi three's, the Lakers played a much more engaged brand of basketball backed by the booming organs and cheer of the Tuesday night home crowd. I think seeing the ball go in the basket off a couple pretty plays did wonders for their confidence, as they hopped out to an eighteen point lead with four and a half to play, 76-94. The stress of the game should've been long gone by that, but if you tuned in to the local Lakers broadcast you know that announcer Bill McDonald jinxed the squad by saying, "The Lakers are up eighteen with four and a half minutes to play. This one's over!". LA then proceeded to give away a couple of mind-numbingly bone-headed turnovers and quick baskets to the Bulls, who actually chopped it to a two-possession game, 98-103! All this was being done by the Bulls second and third stringers! I was ready to blame this loss all on our announcer Bill McDonald, but thankfully the Lakers hit their free throws to walk away with the much-needed W, 100-107. Takeaways My first thought after the win was, "That was stupid" (referring to the late-game run by the Bulls). This version of the team can be pretty predictable with giving up late-game leads. Ugh, whatever though. At least we got this win. The next three games are looking unwinnable without LeBron: on the road vs. Thunder & Rockets then back home for the Warriors. This win was a necessity to stop the bleeding. Throughout the game, a few plays/badly missed shots showed me why the Bulls are the worst offensive team in the league. Lauri Markannen and company were missing wide-open three pointers reeeeeeally badly. There were a few times the shots didn't even scrape the surface of the rim - it just banked against the low backboard right next to the hoop. That to me is always the mark of an off night If this game took place in Chicago it could've easily been a stinker of a Laker offensive performance and a Bulls win. God bless the schedule for giving us a home game this time. Overall, I didn't see a lot of new things on the Lakers end in this one. This was a necessary win and I'm happy they got it, but they're doomed to repeat their same mistakes until LeBron comes back. The offense is still going to be dreadful, the defense will come to play, and they will probably fall to 11th or 12th place in the standings in the brutal West. They're currently tied with the Jazz for 8th place, 6.5 games out of first. Let's see how these next three games against incredibly superior opponents shake out for the Lakers.