Lakers Gameday | 11/19/09 | Bulls
Play by Play
- GAME RECAP
- SHAW PREVIEW
- GAME PREVIEW
- INJURY REPORT
- GAME NOTES
Gasol returns in grand fashion as Lakers pound Bulls
By Bryan Chu, for NBA.com
LOS ANGELES (NBA.com exclusive) -- It didn't take Pau Gasol very long to adjust to the speed of the game in his season debut Thursday.
He ran the floor smoothly, shaking off any questions of his lingering right hamstring injury. His jumpshot and left-handed hookshot were just as deft as last season. He even got knocked down to the floor twice, but bounced back up.
Good news for the Lakers the rest of the way as they went on to trounce the Bulls 108-93 behind Gasol's game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds, including seven offensive.
"I couldn't be happier," Gasol said. "I wasn't really expecting to be as effective as I was tonight. I just played and had fun."
The Lakers (9-3) had a balanced attack with six players scoring in double figures.
Despite a poor 7-for-21 performance from the field, Kobe Bryant recorded a stacked line: 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Ron Artest also chipped in with 15 points and three steals.
Andrew Bynum finished with a season-low 11 points and said he tweeked his right ankle, but "hopefully things aren't too bad," he said.
With the loss, the Bulls (6-5) are off to a rough start with four games remaining on their five-game road trip.
About the only bright spots for Chicago was the early play of John Salmons, who scored all of his 18 points in the first half, Joakim Noah (12 points and 15 rebounds), and the late play of Derrick Rose.
Rose had his prints all over the second half, finding the open man and finally knocking down a few floaters and jump shots. But it wasn't enough. Rose finished with a team-high 20 points on 9-for-20 shooting and also had six assists.
Gasol's play in the opening minutes really set the tone for the game. In the first 6� minutes, Gasol scored 10 of the Lakers' first 13 points. He converted 4-for-5 from the field.
"He played great. It's good to have him back," Artest said. "He fit right in."
Trailing 53-42 at intermission, the Bulls couldn't keep up with the length of the Lakers, who opened up with a 10-2 run that pushed the game out of reach.
"Their length is definitely their biggest strength," Noah said. "To me, the most amazing thing about it is, you're out there, you're competing hard, and these guys are hardly breaking a sweat because they're so comfortable in running their offense."
The Bulls were punished inside and were outscored 60-40 in the paint. They were also outhustled 22-8 on second-chance points. The Lakers led by as many as 24 points.
Lakers guard Derek Fisher had a pair of 3s in the third quarter in what was his best game of the season, finishing with a season-high 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting.
After the game, Gasol, who saw 32 minutes of action, did mention he hasn't gotten his wind back yet.
"I was glad we had a national televised game because they're longer," he said. "After that I held up pretty well.
"[I feel] a little sore, the conditioning is not there yet."
Rose had a solid game against the Lakers after struggling for much of the season.
Eleven games into last season, the NBA's Rookie of the Year was averaging 19.4 points per game, shooting 48 percent. This season he is averaging 14 points per game on 43.9 percent form the field. He also had five 20-point games compared to two this season. The slow start is in part because of a strained tendon behind his right ankle. Against the Lakers, he had a few explosive drives to the basket, but just couldn't convert.
"He's frustrated because he's a competitive kid," Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro. "He's not physically 100 percent, not in the condition he was [last season] just because of the injury. You just have to take a step back, give him some time...I think he's improved in a few areas, especially defensively. It takes time. He'll get into and be productive."
NOTES: With his 21-point performance, Bryant passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second place on the Lakers' all-time scoring list with 24,182 points. He trails only Jerry West (25,192).
Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson on tonight’s game:
“I thought we played a relatively decent game. I mean we didn’t shoot the ball great but we played pretty good defense. We had opportunities with some of our big guys in there tonight. It is nice to have Pau back out on the court.”
On the combinations he experienced with tonight:
“I liked most of the combinations that we had out there. We tried the two small guard combination out there in the second period again tonight to see how that would work with us, they did ok, it wasn’t a great start but they did pretty good defensively for us. Rotations were pretty good.”
On Pau Gasol’s performance tonight:
“He had a lot of things bounce his way. He had 7 offensive rebounds and you know that is a big night for anybody. A lot of things bounced his way off that offensive board and he had some easy shots. I didn’t want to play for that many minutes but we had gotten into some foul trouble and it became necessary to do that.”
On playing the Bulls:
“Ron Artest said we were going to have to grind out this game, it is kind of a grinding team. We are going to have to be physical and aggressive and we are just going to have to play at that level.”
On defense tonight:
“I thought we always go to the basket a lot of times but doing that much penetration compared to recent games, that part of the penetration was not great. I thought we were a little too aggressive at times trying to steal the ball. I thought our big guys were pretty active and helped out a lot of times in situations that worked pretty well for us. Our transition defense still has an element that we as a team have to work on.”
Lakers’ player Kobe Bryant on having Pau Gasol back:
“It feels great. We have our squad now; obviously we can’t wait to get Luke back then we will be at full strength. But, you know, having Pau back is huge. We didn’t miss a beat either. We have a bunch of guys that can post, you know, we have the advantage.”
On passing Kareem’s Laker scoring record:
“It feels great. I’ve always said that in this organization, with this tradition and history here, you know, you know you look up at the rafters and you talk about some of the best players that ever played. And it feels great to be climbing that ladder.”
On Pau Gasol’s efficiency tonight:
“The game is so easy for him. It’s not like he’s in Memphis where he’s getting double and triple teamed. We spread the space the floor out for him extremely well and we give him the ball in positions where he can be effective quickly. And with his talent, with this squad, it’s lights out for him.”
Lakers’ player Pau Gasol on how he feels about returning tonight:
“Pretty good. I couldn’t be happier. You know, I had a lot of fun playing the game and playing with my teammates, I have such a great team that it’s a pleasure. It’s really a lot of fun.”
On his efficiency tonight:
“I wasn’t really expecting to be as effective as I was tonight. You know, I just played and had fun. I took advantage of the opportunities. I went to the glass pretty well. My teammates found me a couple of times and my legs felt a little better than I thought.”
On how he feels physically right now:
“A little sore, the conditioning is not there yet. But it is a matter of pushing through it and I’m just happy that I can be playing the game with my teammates after being out for awhile.”
Lakers’ player Andrew Bynum on having fewer minutes tonight:
“I twisted my ankle a little. I’m going to get some therapy in the morning, and hopefully things aren’t too bad. When I got my fourth foul on Brad Miller I twisted my right ankle.”
On Pau Gasol returning tonight:
“He did a great job tonight. He was out there, you know, just playing like he can. He didn’t look tired to me, you know, he was going to work and played through all of the possessions and got a lot of offensive boards.”
Lakers vs. Bulls Game Preview
By BRETT HUSTON
Kobe Bryant took it upon himself to help lift the Los Angeles Lakers out of their offensive funk in their latest game, scoring 40 for the 100th time in his storied career.
The return of Pau Gasol should make Los Angeles even more formidable.
Gasol is expected to make his season debut Thursday night as the Lakers continue their five-game homestand against the Chicago Bulls, who opened their lengthy circus road trip with an impressive win.
Los Angeles (8-3) hasn't been at full strength as it sets out to defend its NBA title, and at times it's been clear that the absence of Gasol - who averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds per game last season - has made a difference.
The Lakers have been held to 83.3 points per game in their three losses and especially struggled in the second half of their recent two-game rut, averaging 30.0 points in the final 24 minutes.
Bryant made sure Los Angeles could cruise for the final 12 minutes Tuesday. He scored 35 of his 40 in the first three quarters to help the Lakers open a 25-point lead en route to a 106-93 win over Detroit.
Bryant's 100th 40-point game leaves him behind only Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173).
"It's a true honor," said Bryant, who's been held under 20 in four of his last six games against Chicago. "A lot of work went into it, and when I look back on that, I (can't believe) I had 100 of those games."
Bryant's 17-of-29 shooting performance helped Los Angeles avoid its first three-game slide since right before Gasol's arrival in February 2008.
"Some of that is just talent, and some of it is resiliency," coach Phil Jackson said of the Lakers' consistency. "They were embarrassed with the losses, and they want to feel good about themselves, so they worked hard to change that."
While all signs point to Gasol's season debut coming in this nationally televised contest against the Bulls (6-4), the big man hasn't been hurting for TV exposure. Gasol, out with a strained hamstring, appeared earlier this week in an episode of "CSI: Miami" that was filmed during the preseason.
Chicago is in Hollywood as part of an annual road trip prompted by the circus coming to the United Center, and historically those excursions have not gone well. The Bulls were 9-56 on the trip since Jordan's retirement heading into Tuesday's game against Sacramento, though they were 3-4 last season.
They got this trip off to a solid start against the Kings, who had won four straight. John Salmons had 23 points and Chicago's 14-point halftime lead held up in a 101-87 victory.
"We didn't shoot the ball nearly as well in the second half, but at least we had enough of a cushion to sustain that a little bit," coach Vinny Del Negro told the Bulls' official Web site. "It's a good start to a long trip."
Chicago topped 100 points for the first time, and Salmons' 23 were especially encouraging. The former King, who averaged 18.3 points on 47.3 percent shooting after being traded to the Bulls in February, was averaging 12.6 points on 31.7 percent shooting heading into Tuesday.
Perhaps a matchup with the Lakers will allow Salmons to sustain his production. He averaged 25.3 points on 56.1 shooting in three games against Los Angeles last season, scoring 30 in his lone appearance with the Bulls - a 117-109 home loss March 21.
Chicago began its circus trip last season with a 116-109 loss to the Lakers on Nov. 18 as Gasol scored 34.
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Kobe Bryant (strained right groin) is probable.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is out.
Pau Gasol (right hamstring strain) is probable.
Aaron Gray (left fibula stress fracture) is out.
Jerome James (right 0-0 Achilles) is out.
Tyrus Thomas (left radius fracture) is out.
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers swept last season’s series with the Bulls 2-0 for the second consecutive year and have won six of their last seven meetings dating back to 2005. This will be the 136th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 81-54. The Lakers have gone 7-3 against the Bulls in their last 10 overall games. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 8-2 all-time against the Bulls and have won 6-of- their-last-7. In Chicago, the Lakers have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games at the United Center against the Bulls but have won their last two straight. Under head coach Phil Jackson, who coached in Chicago for nine seasons, the Lakers are 13-5 all-time against his former team, 7-2 in Los Angeles, 6-3 in Chicago. Lakers assistant coach Frank Hamblen spent three years as an assistant in Chicago and was a member of the 1997 and 1998 Bulls Championship teams. Assistant coach Jim Cleamons spent seven seasons as an assistant in Chicago and was a member of the 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1996 Bulls Championship teams. Lakers Special Assistant Coach Craig Hodges played four seasons with the Bulls and was a member of their 1991 and 1992 Championship teams. On November 18, 2007, the Lakers defeated the Bulls by 28 point, surpassing the old series record of 27 established back on February 18, 1968. One year earlier, the Lakers held the Bulls to a series-low 72 points November 19, 2006 at STAPLES Center. In 22 career games (18 starts) against Chicago, Kobe Bryant is averaging 24.3 points with a high game of 43 coming back on 11/20/05. Additionally, forward Ron Artest was drafted by the Bulls with the 16th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, playing 2 1⁄2 seasons with Chicago and earning All-Rookie Second Team honors his rookie year. Guard Shannon Brown grew up just a few miles outside of Chicago, earning First Team Parade All-American, McDonald’s All- American, Illinois Mr. Basketball and co-MVP of the Jordan Capital Classic (with LeBron James) as a senior at Provisio East HS in Maywood, IL.
BRYANT 16 POINTS SHY OF PASSING ABDUL-JABBAR ON LAKERS FRANCHISE ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
With 40 points November 17th vs. Detroit, Kobe Bryant (24,161) moved within 16 points of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24,176) for 2nd on the Lakers all-time franchise scoring list. Entering Thursday’s game against Chicago, only Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West (25,192) have scored more points with the Lakers than Bryant. At his current pace (31.0 ppg), Bryant would surpass West 34 games from now 1/26/10 at Washington. Earlier this month, with 41 points November 6th against Memphis, Bryant moved past Allen Iverson (24,020) for 16th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant has been steadily moving up the list the last few years and last season alone, moved past Charles Barkley (23,757) for 17th, Robert Parish (23,334) for 18th, Adrian Dantley (23,177) for 19th, Elgin Baylor (23,149) for 20th, Clyde Drexler (22,195) for 21st, Gary Payton (21,813) for 22nd and Larry Bird (21,791) for 23rd. Next on the NBA’s all-time list ahead of Bryant (24,161) are Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Jerry West (25,192).
Kobe Bryant scored 40 points 11/17/09 vs. Detroit, marking the 100th time in his career that he has scored 40+ points in a game and the 4th time this season, matching his total for all of last season (4). Bryant’s 46 points February 1, 2008 at Toronto moved him past Elgin Baylor (88 40+ games) for 3rd all-time and into 1st in Lakers franchise history. In the history of the NBA, only two players have more career 40-point games: Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). The Lakers are now 69-31 all- time in games that Bryant scores 40+ points and are 4-0 in such games this season. Bryant holds the Lakers franchise record for 40-point games in a single season, recording 27 during the 2005-06 campaign. Bryant also holds the franchise record for most consecutive 40-point games (9), established during the 2002-03 season, which is tied for the fourth longest such streak in NBA history (Michael Jordan) behind Wilt Chamberlain, who twice posted streaks of 14 and once had a 10-game streak.
JACKSON PASSES LARRY BROWN FOR 5th ON THE ALL-TIME COACHING VICTORIES LIST
A season after earning his record 10th NBA Championship as a head coach, Phil Jackson (1,049-438) moved past Charlotte Bobcats head coach Larry Brown (1,048-853) for 5th on the NBA’s all-time coaching win list with a victory over the Detroit Pistons on November 17th. The only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (.705), Jackson ranks 12th in all-time regular season games coached and 1st in playoff games coached (300), won (209) and playoff winning percentage (.697). Last season, Jackson became the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 1,000 career victories, needing 1,423 games to reach the mark. Earning induction in his first year of consideration, on September 7, 2007, Jackson was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Only Jerry Sloan (4th), Pat Riley (3rd), Don Nelson (2nd) and Lenny Wilkens (1st) have more career victories than Brown and Jackson while of the top six, Jackson has coached 1,000+ fewer games than Wilkens, 800+ fewer games than Nelson, nearly 500 fewer games than Riley and roughly 400 fewer games than Sloan and Brown.
BYNUM’S STRONG START
With 44 double-doubles and 13 20+ point games entering the season, Andrew Bynum has already posted EIGHT double-doubles and FIVE 20+ points games in nine games this season. Among the top 10 league leaders in double-doubles, Bynum, who currently ranks 2nd league-wide behind Chris Bosh (9), has played the fewest games. Additionally, Bynum (20.3 points, 11.8 rebounds) and Bosh (26.4 points, 11.8 rebounds) are the only two players league-wide to average better than 20 points and 10 rebounds through games of 11/17/09. With his current averages of 20.3 points, 11.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.78 blocks over 39.3 minutes, Bynum ranks 5th league- wide in efficiency with a 26.6 rating, trailing only LeBron James (30.5), Bosh (29.0), Chris Paul (29.3) and Dirk Nowitzki (27.1). NBA.com evaluates all players based on the efficiency formula: ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) - ((Field Goals Att. - Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. - Free Throws Made) + Turnovers)).
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
With a victory over Detroit on November 17, the Lakers snapped their FIRST two-game losing streak of the season. Last season, the Lakers suffered just FOUR two-game losing streaks all season, a mark which was historically good. According to Philadelphia 76ers stats guru Harvey Pollack, no team has gone through a season without a single two-game losing streak; six teams have had just one two-game skid, 13 teams (including the 1949-50 and 1986-87 Lakers) have had two two-game losing streaks, 11 (including the 1971-72, 1989-90 and 1999-00 Lakers) have had three two-game streaks and five teams, including last season’s 2008-09 Lakers championship squad, went through a season with four two-game losing streaks total.
Since the acquisition of Pau Gasol on February 1, 2008, however, the Lakers have yet to lose three consecutive games. Los Angeles has now lost two-straight games NINE times overall since acquiring Gasol (7 regular season, 2 playoff streaks). Of those nine two-game losing skids, the Lakers have played the third game of the streak without Gasol three times, snapping two-game losing streaks with victories 3/18/08 at Dallas, 3/30/08 vs. Washington in overtime and 11/17/09 vs. Detroit. In games played without Gasol since he joined the Lakers, Los Angeles is now 15-7 overall (6-4 in 2007-08, 1-0 in 2008-09 and 8-3 in 2009-10). The Lakers last three-game losing streak came just a week before the trade, with consecutive losses at San Antonio, at Dallas and vs. Cleveland from 1/23/08 through 1/27/08.