Trailing by as many as 19 points, the Lakers clawed their way back against the Chicago Bulls, winning 118-112. Riding an epic fourth-quarter run kickstarted by Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Howard, the Lakers pulled away late after losing for nearly the entirety of the game. While the defense was ugly the vast majority of the game, the Lakers showed up when they needed to and made enough big plays down the stretch to steal away a road win and improve their record to 6-1 on the season.
The Lakers head back home to face the Miami Heat at Staples Center on Friday night. Now for the good, the bad, and the ugly from tonight’s big comeback win:
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The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Chicago Bulls
Kyle Kuzma & Dwight Howard’s Fourth Quarter
Despite both being a non-factor in the first half, both Kuzma & Howard upped their play after halftime – specifically, in the fourth quarter. Howard provided a bundle of energy and played a huge role in the Lakers fighting back to regain the lead, picking up a number of big buckets and defensive stops in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Kuzma showed off just how valuable his shooting can be off the bench – hitting a number of big shots to help spark the Lakers’ run.
Howard finished the game with six points, six rebounds, and a block while Kuzma chipped in 15 points and four rebounds. The two combined for 17 points in the Lakers’ big fourth-quarter comeback that saw them outscore the Bulls 38 to 19.
LeBron James, Specifically in the Second Quarter
Things could have been considerably worse in the second quarter if not for LeBron James. James single-handedly went on an 8-0 run at one point to pull the game close, though the rest of the offense went utterly quiet. James was the only Laker in double-digits heading into the half and finished the game with 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists in yet another triple-double.
Though turnovers weren’t as big of a problem tonight and you simply tip your cap to James for being one of the only members of the team who decided to show up for all 48 minutes in the last leg of the road trip.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Chicago Bulls
First Quarter Defense
There isn’t much to say about things in the first quarter except that it wasn’t pretty. Vogel opted to not play Dwight Howard and once he pulled LeBron and went with a smaller lineup of Cook, Caruso, Daniels, Kuzma, and Davis, the lineup struggled to generate defensive stops and found themselves down 29-24 at the end of the first quarter. Giving up 29 points in a half to the baby Bulls isn’t something the league’s top-rated defense should be doing. While Vogel was experimenting with some new rotations with Kuzma back in the fold, it seems this unit is one he might want to stick away from moving forward.
Compared to your average NBA player, Anthony Davis didn’t necessarily have a bad night. However, the bar Davis has set so far as a Laker (no games with fewer than 20 points, and a 40/20 outing) is exceptionally high and his performance simply didn’t live up to his previous efforts. Only going for 15 points and seven rebounds on the offensive end, Davis was at least able to salvage something by picking up three blocks on the night.
Even though the Bulls are one of the better team at poking balls loose, the Lakers were atrocious in taking care of the basketball. With 16 total turnovers on the evening, the Lakers repeatedly gave the ball to the Bulls who created a whopping 23 points off turnovers.
Though James has struggled with taking care of the basketball at times while moving into his new role as point guard, he was far from the worst culprit tonight. Every player except Daniels, Dudley, and Howard registered at least one turnover on the night. Kuzma and Davis led the way with a team-high 3 each.
The Second Quarter From the Lakers’ Win Over the Chicago Bulls
As bad as the Lakers played in the first quarter, things got considerably worse in the second. Outscored 36-24, the Lakers found themselves facing a 17 point deficit heading into the half. Though James had a decent quarter, no other Laker was anywhere to be found. Davis only chipped in two points during the Bulls second-quarter run, heading into the half with only four points and a team-worst -17 rating.
Kyle Kuzma got plenty of open looks yet struggled to convert while turning the ball over a team-high three times in the first half. Dwight Howard, who has provided consistent production from the bench thus far, was also nowhere to be found. Playing nine of the 12 minutes in the second quarter, Dwight didn’t register a single point, rebound, assist, block or steal – though he did pick up a lone foul.
While the Lakers are on the last leg of a tough road trip and are undoubtedly a bit tired, this sort of performance is completely unacceptable against a rebuilding Bulls team.