The game was tied 75-75 with 7:26 to play, but the Bulls ended the game on a 20-8 run.
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Perhaps the stat that best summarizes the game is that the Bulls had 25 assists against eight turnovers, whereas the Lakers had 15 assists against 15 turnovers. The Bulls looked like a team, whereas the Lakers – as they have all season – looked disjointed.
It was Kobe Bryant’s third straight game with both high field goal attempts and low field goal percentage – a disastrous combination – as he shot just 7 of 22 (32%) for the night. His 0 of 6 shooting from behind the arc was the biggest reason the Lakers shot just 3 of 17 (18%) from distance on the night.
The Bulls, on the other hand, shot 9 of 17 on three-point attempts – a difference of 18 points on the same number of shots taken. That really was the key difference in the game.
Dwight Howard responded to being ejected from his previous game by scoring just eight points (on 2 of 5 shooting) and grabbing nine rebounds in 30 minutes. His four turnovers and five fouls did not help his productivity, nor did playing alongside Earl Clark instead of Pau Gasol.
Steve Nash was the only Laker to shoot as high as 50% on the evening, scoring a season-high 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting (58%), and adding six assists, four rebounds, and just two turnovers; however, despite his best efforts on defense, he was outplayed by the Bulls’ Kirk Hinrich, who scored 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting, and added eight assists, seven rebounds, and just one turnover.
Pau Gasol was told by Coach Mike D’Antoni before the game that he would no longer be a starter. He was not impressed, but turned in a pretty solid night in the end, scoring 15 points (6 of 14) and grabbing a team-high 12 boards in 26 minutes of play.
Earl Clark and Metta World Peace each had 12 points and eight rebounds on the night. MWP also recorded four steals, which moved him past Rod Strickland and into 24th place all-time with 1,617 for his career.
It needs to be noted that the Lakers’ bench – other than Pau – played incredibly quietly. Mouse-like, even. Antawn Jamison, Chris Duhon, Darius Morris and Jodie Meeks, in 34 combined minutes, had two points (1 of 4 shooting), five rebounds, one steal, one assist, and three turnovers.
That’s no help at all.
I have no suggestions for Coach D’Antoni – he has a lot of problems to deal with. And things don’t get any easier for the Lakers, as they are in Memphis on Wednesday.
Of course the Lakers can still turn the season around, but the chances of that happening have now grown dimmer than any of us ever imagined they would.
Lakers’ Player of the Game
Steve Nash was the Lakers player of the game, scoring a team high 18 points while being the only Laker to shoot over 50% on the night. He was 7 of 12 from the field, including 2 of 3 from downtown (his teammates were 1 of 14), and going 2 of 2 from the line, remaining perfect this year on all 26 of his free throw attempts.
Tonight’s Top Two Tweets in my Twitter Feed
“The Lakers are just as close to being dead last in the Western Conference as they are the eight seed (four games). BK” – @KamBrothers, post-game tweet
“So disappointing to watch the Lakers right now. They sucked the life out of me, and I’m just an analyst. Can’t imagine how Laker fans feel.” – @SteveKerrTNT, post-game tweet
Wednesday, January 23 at the Memphis Grizzlies, 5:00 p.m. PST