Notebook: Lakers 90, Bulls 81

Posted Mar 10, 2013 7:22 PM

Dan Arritt, for

THE FACTS: What seemed like a faraway destination just six weeks ago became reality for the Lakers on Sunday afternoon. They completed their climb back into the top eight in the Western Conference with a 90-81 victory against the visiting Bulls at Staples Center, getting 16 points and 21 rebounds from Dwight Howard and double-digit scoring from the rest of the L.A. starters.

QUOTABLE: "We are playing a lot better, and we're playing the way we're supposed to. Now do we have a long way to go? Yes we do."
-- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni.

THE STAT: The Lakers collected a season-best 19 offensive rebounds, but the Bulls weren't bad on the offensive glass either, taking 18 for themselves. Chicago turned their offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points, while the Lakers finished with 20. Bulls forward Joakim Noah matched his season high with 10 offensive rebounds, pulling down 17 in all. Howard recorded at least 20 rebounds for the 62nd time in his career, which is more than any two players combined.

QUOTABLE II: "[Howard] just dominated the paint with shot blocking, rebounding, physicality. That set the tone for the game and they dominated us on the boards from the start."
-- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau.

TURNING POINT: The Bulls scored six consecutive points late in the second quarter to take their only lead of the game, 36-34. The Lakers went back up by four at the half and then applied more defensive pressure in the third quarter. Chicago missed 11 straight field-goal attempts during a 12-0 run by the Lakers that put them ahead, 65-47, with 4:05 left in the quarter. The Bulls got back within eight with 8:02 remaining in the game but then went scoreless for nearly four minutes, allowing the Lakers to regain control.

HOT: Since the All Star break, Lakers point guard Steve Nash was shooting 57.8 percent from the floor in the second half, including 60 percent in the third quarter. He continued that trend against the Bulls, shooting 4-for-6 from the floor in the third and scoring 10 of his 16 points to help the Lakers extend their lead from four to 12 points.

NOT: The Lakers missed their first 11 attempts from 3-point range before finishing 5-for-26 from beyond the arc. L.A. forward Metta World Peace was 0-for-6 from long distance, most coming on wide-open looks. Howard missed all five of his free-throw attempts, including one that didn't draw iron. The Bulls were cold across the board, shooting 37.1 percent from the field for the game.

GOOD MOVE: The leash has gotten quite short for Lakers starting forward Earl Clark, and coach D'Antoni didn't hesitate to yank him from the game midway through the opening quarter after his 3-point attempt barely nicked the front of the rim. The message seemed to get through as Clark drained a 3-pointer to close out the first half and hit a pull-up jumper at the third-quarter buzzer before finishing with 11 points in 23 minutes.

BAD MOVE: Howard picked up his third foul with 5:09 left in the second quarter but D'Antoni elected to keep him on the floor for another 2 ½ minutes. Howard didn't play any defense or contest any shots during that stretch, enabling the Bulls to twice score inside and take their only lead of the game.

NOTABLE: After combining for 83 points and 24 assists in the last two games, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant finished with 19 points and nine assists. ... The Lakers are two games above .500 for the first time this season. ... Chicago back-up forward Taj Gibson missed his seventh consecutive game with a left knee injury and reserve guard Kirk Hinrich missed his fourth straight with a right foot ailment.

UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Tuesday @ Orlando, Wednesday @ Atlanta, Friday @ Indiana. For the Bulls, Wednesday @ Sacramento, Friday @ Golden State, Monday vs. Denver.