The Los Angeles Lakers (17-23) don’t have time to lament yesterday’s deflating loss to the Toronto Raptors as they travel to the United Center tonight to take on the Chicago Bulls (23-26). Los Angeles is struggling more than anyone expected they would and Kobe Bryant told the media yesterday that everyone can “point the finger” at him for the Lakers play this season. Bryant scored 26 points in the loss to Toronto, but went 10-32 from the field. Dwight Howard’s first half ejection meant that Pau Gasol and Earl Clark needed to step up and they did just that, putting up 25 points and 5 rebounds, and 14 points and 14 rebounds respectively. Like most games thus far, the effort was not there and it showed, producing another loss to an inferior opponent. The loss dropped LA to 12th place in the Western Conference standings. Los Angeles is four games out of the eighth spot in the West just about mid-way through the season. It goes without saying that time is running out for the Lakers and something needs to change. The Lakers face a much better team in Chicago tonight, despite the fact that the Bulls have played the entire season without their best player, Derrick Rose.
Chicago sits in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and a game and a half back in the Central Division. The Bulls have managed to stay relevant without their star point guard, Derrick Rose, by having one of the best defenses in the league, allowing only 91.7 points per game (3rd in the NBA). They rebound the ball well, with players like Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer that average double digits in rebounds, and they don’t mind sharing the rock, averaging 22.8 assists per game as a team. The Bulls are now led by Luol Deng, who is averaging 17.4 points and 6.4 rebounds a game this season, however, Deng is a game-time decision as a result of a sore right hamstring. Chicago has gone to overtime in its last three games so fatigue may be a problem for the starters. The Bulls don’t put up many points on offense so the Lakers’ notorious lack of effort on defense won’t be as significant tonight. Instead the Lakers must focus on offensive execution, limiting turnovers and getting high-percentage looks at the bucket.
#15 World Peace SF #21 Butler
#16 Gasol PF #5 Boozer
#12 Howard C #13 Noah
#24 Bryant SG #32 Hamilton
#10 Nash PG #12 Hinrich
The game tips-off at 6:30PM PT at the United Center on TNT and ESPNLA 710.
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