Bulls vs. Lakers final score: Anthony Davis comes home and brutalizes Bulls

Mar 30, 2023 - 3:47 AM
NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at <a href=Chicago Bulls" src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/gHyb4vxYTIBKXWnqk89iz7yQHu4=/0x0:4500x2531/1920x1080/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/72129392/usa_today_20345126.0.jpg" />
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was a bummer.

Tonight against the visiting Los Angeles Lakers, our Chicago Bulls looked absolutely outmatched from the jump. With D’Angelo Russell back following a two-game absence and LeBron James wisely moved back into the starting lineup (albeit on a minutes restriction), Los Angeles had a much more well-rounded two-way night than they did in the two teams’ prior encounter Sunday, a 118-108 Bulls victory.

A key strategic shift was Lakers head coach Darvin Ham’s decision to double-team Chicago’s best scorers, wings DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, especially off pick-and-roll actions. As a result, the Bulls were forced to take a bunch of jumpers, to middling results. Chicago did launch significantly more triples (33) than Los Angeles (20), although thanks in part to a poor long-range shooting night from Zach and Patrick Williams (a combined 0-for-7), the Bulls only made two more than LA did (9-7).

Nikola Vucevic also benefitted from all the coverage on Chicago perimeter players, scoring 19 quick points in the game’s first half. As has fitfully been the case this season, the Bulls went away from feeding the big man in the second half. He still finished with a 29-point, 12-rebound double-double, his 47th of the year, while also chipping in six assists.

The Lakers started things out with a bang, galloping to a 27-10 lead in the game’s first eight minutes, thanks to a balanced offensive attack. Vucevic, Derrick Jones Jr. and Coby White helped the Bulls mount something of a comeback, and the final tally in the first quarter was a still-bad 31-20, Lakers.

Chicago actually clawed its way to a one-point lead midway through the second frame, as a lineup of Coby White, Ayo Dosunmu, DeRozan, Patrick Williams and Derrick Jones Jr. went on a 17-6 run to kick off the quarter. The half ended with Los Angeles only up eight, 59-51.

LA built up its lead a bit in the third quarter, before really turning on the jets and leaving Chicago in its dust in the fourth. Austin Reaves even got his revenge on Patrick Beverley with a spin move-and-“too small” gesture in garbage time.

Chicago just doesn’t have a ton of high-level two-way players. Starters Patrick Beverley and Alex Caruso, the team’s best defenders on the perimeter (and everywhere, really), couldn’t get cooking offensively tonight. The duo combined to make just 2-of-9 field goals... the entire game. Off the bench, guards Coby White (17 points on 6-of-11 shooting from the floor and a +18 plus-minus) and Ayo Dosunmu (12 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the floor and a +17 plus-minus) helped make up a bit for Caruso and Beverley, though some of those buckets came with the contest already well out-of-hand.

On the Lakers side, LA made a point to look for contact, and enjoyed a massive free throw edge. The Lakers went 24-for-30 from the charity stripe, lapping the Bulls’ paltry 11-for-13 night. Center Anthony Davis alone took more fouls (he went 11-for-14) than the entire Chicago roster!

The Brow was the star of the show for Los Angeles, scoring 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting from the floor plus the aforementioned free throw efficacy. He also pulled down 10 rebounds. In his second game back, LeBron James looked like he had his sea legs under him a bit more, scoring 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting.

With the loss, the Bulls fall to a 36-40 record, as LA improves to 38-38. The Bulls are still two games clear of the East’s 11th seed, the 34-42 Washington Wizards, and have pretty much a guaranteed win (although I’ve regretted saying that before) coming up Friday against Michael Jordan’s 26-51 Charlotte Hornets.

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