Balanced attack leads Lakers over BullsDec 19, 2007 - 5:24 AM By Bruce Levine PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant finally made his long-awaited arrival in Chicago.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, Bryant - the subject of major trade talks between Chicago and Los Angeles - was still in a Lakers jersey and had plenty of help with him.
Sasha Vujacic scored 19 points off the bench and Bryant added 18 to help lead the Lakers to a 103-91 victory over the Bulls on Tuesday.
Lamar Odom had 17 points and 16 rebounds and Andrew Bynum contributed 12 and 10 for the Lakers, who had six players in double figures in their first of a four-game Eastern Conference road trip.
"We wanted to start this trip off on the right foot and a win was important for us," Odom said. "At the end of the game our team finally locked down and ran our offense."
Chicago had seemed to be the likely destination for Bryant, who had demanded a trade during the offseason. But the Los Angeles bench, which scored 60 points in the Lakers' 28-point win over the Bulls on November 18, has stepped up in recent weeks and again played a pivotal role down the stretch.
"Everybody is contributing and playing well," Bryant said. "It makes the game fun. Tonight we just kept our poise and it shows. Our team is starting to grow together."
Los Angeles never trailed since the midway point of the first quarter but Chicago hung around and tied the game at 77-77 on Luol Deng's 3-pointer with 9:34 to play in the contest.
The Lakers then turned it up on both ends of the court, putting together an 11-0 run keyed by Jordan Farmar's five points. Odom's breakaway layup finished off the spurt, giving the Lakers a 97-83 lead with 3:23 left.
Vujacic scored nine points in the final quarter as the Lakers coasted over the final few minutes to their sixth win in their last seven games.
"The Bulls were double teaming on the post and leaving me open," Vujacic said. "We are a dangerous team when we play together and share the basketball."
"As eye-popping as Kobe's numbers are, the reason they have the record they do is because all their other guys are playing well," frustrated Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "Their bench has been outstanding."
Odom's slam dunk helped the Lakers build an early 19-11 lead - their largest of the first half - with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
Ben Wallace's layup in the second quarter got Chicago within 39-38 with 2:52 left, but Luke Walton's layup put the Lakers back up, 49-45, at the half.
Deng scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half for Chicago, which was outrebounded, 52-41, and committed 18 turnovers.
"Consistency is something we have struggled with all year," Deng said. "We had seven turnovers when the game was on the line and they made us pay for it."
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