Lakers Gameday | 12/15/09 | Bulls
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Bryant scores 42, Lakers beat Bulls 96-87
By ANDREW SELIGMAN
Posted Dec 15 2009 10:45PM
CHICAGO(AP) Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 42 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers won for the 12th time in 13 games, beating the fading Chicago Bulls 96-87 on Tuesday.
Down one through three quarters, the Lakers pulled away early in the fourth and sent Chicago to its 11th loss in 13 games.
Bryant was simply phenomenal even though he was wearing a splint on his broken right index finger, tearing through the Bulls after struggling to score 16 in a loss to Utah on Saturday. He needed IV fluids in that game because of a stomach ailment but had no trouble this time.
He was particularly good in the early going, scoring 20 points in the first quarter and 25 in the half against single coverage as Los Angeles built a 54-48 lead, and some fans even chanted ``MVP! MVP!'' after his dunk in the closing seconds.
Andrew Bynum added 11 points, Pau Gasol grabbed 16 rebounds and Shannon Brown scored seven of his nine in the fourth as Los Angeles came away with the win.
Luol Deng scored 21 for Chicago and so did Derrick Rose even though he strained a left rib in the first quarter. Brad Miller scored 15 and Joakim Noah added 11 points and 20 rebounds for his 11th double-double, but the Bulls came up short against the Western Conference leaders.
They can take some comfort in this, though: They didn't get embarrassed.
That's a big improvement for a team that lost to New Jersey and got blown out by Toronto, Atlanta and Boston during an ugly seven-day stretch, and the Bulls were even leading 73-72 going into the fourth.
Brown, who's from the Chicago area, buried a corner 3 and dunked on a three-on-one to give the Lakers a 77-73 lead a minute into the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles stayed in control the rest of the way.
It was 90-84 after Miller buried a jumper with 2:14 left, but Bryant hit one of his own in the final minute. Gasol converted two free throws, and Bryant then punctuated the win with that dunk, drawing a roar from the crowd.
NOTES: Lakers F Ron Artest said he does not anticipate any trouble with Ben Wallace when Los Angeles visits Detroit on Sunday, although he wouldn't mind fighting him on pay-per-view. He even called Wallace ``a good guy'' who has a ``great family,'' and said if they did go at it, the bout would have to be sanctioned. ``It's something that's kinda cool and probably will never happen,'' Artest said. In a recent interview with the Sporting News, Artest said he's still ready to fight Wallace, the player who shoved him on the play that preceded the brawl with Pistons fans when Artest was with Indiana.
Copyright 2009 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
Phil Jackson, Lakers head coach:
Q: On their second-half play.
A: We got some steals and run outs in the fourth quarter and Jordan had some big steals. It gave us the lead back and we could get out and run from there. Yes, I think Kobe's finger was shown with the eight turnovers. It was really fortunate for us that he was shooting so well. I was worried on their screen and rolls and it let Rose get going. That's why we had to come back with our starters. We won't win many games playing like we did tonight. We gave up about a gazillion [sic] offensive rebounds.
Q: On Kobe's first quarter.
A: Kobe was shooting well. We thought they might go to a zone to stop him. However, they double-teamed him well in the third quarter. I thought that in that quarter we went to him too much. That allowed them to get back in the game. We're just happy to win this game. I thought we came out lethargic to start with but it's just good to get a road win.
Q: On the rebounding difference.
A: Noah just did a great job tonight. He's one of the most talented rebounders in the league. He just gave a great effort tonight. We just need to give more effort out there on the boards and put bodies on people.
Kobe Bryant, Lakers guard:
Q: On the game tonight.
A: I just wanted to get a rhythm going. I got here early and got some shots up. I felt pretty good.
Q: Were you surprised the Bulls didn't switch up the defense on you?
A: No, they came and helped. At that point my shot was good. It felt like if I was going to shoot it, it was going to be good.
Q: You've played through so many injuries before, what's it like playing with a broken finger?
A: This is the most challenging one. I've played with sore ankles, broken knuckles and things like that, it's tough, it affects my follow through.
Q: Was this a tougher game than you anticipated?
A: No, we knew it was going to be tough. They were very physical and played with a lot of energy and were very physical. It was the type of game we expected.
Q: How are you controlling the ball?
A: Repetition. I got out there and got a better feel and just tried to figure out how to play with the finger. Anticipate how it's going to feel. I'm still having a little trouble handling the basketball. I have trouble dribbling through traps but close to the basket I was pretty effective.
Vinny Del Negro- Chicago coach:
This is more like the way you should be playing:
“I thought it was a good effort but we could not get anything going in the 4th quarter. Kirk gave us a real big lift. We had great hustle by guys. Our rebounding and effort helped us stay in the game. We did a decent job of handling the basketball tonight. When you shoot 38 or 39% it's difficult. Kobe in the 1st half was unstoppable. He took over the game for them.”
Was it good shots by the Bulls?
“I thought they were good shots, we just didn't make them. We were getting good looks, we were just not able to convert. Once you don't convert they're putting pressure on you and we had John Salmons and Kirk battling Kobe all night. They put Kobe at the elbow and that's his favorite spot. We battled and other than Kobe I thought we stopped them. We did a good job on everyone else but Kobe is going to make those shots.”
The way the team played, is that something to build the team confidence?
“I hope it will. There's not a perfect science to it. It's a matter of your approach and how you put in your work tomorrow. Are they going to try to find ways to get better and understand our execution needs to be a little better? We got good performances from guys especially on the glass. Joakim was terrific on the glass. Brad Miller and Luol Deng had good games for us. I like the way Derrick attacked the basket. He just missed some easy ones at the end.”
A missed opportunity after dominating the stats?
“The biggest statistic is the score. Kobe had a phenomenal game. We did a better job on him in the 2nd half. He just makes tough shots, that's what he does. He put his team on his back tonight.”
When Kobe is scoring like that, do you need to put a body on him?
“I thought John was battling him and Kirk was battling him, but Kobe gets that every night. He doesn't seem to get tired. He's built that way. His body is trained for that so it's very difficult to wear him down. The great players find a way to use their body and he's one of the great ones. Kobe was making a lot of fadeaways. You just have to contest and get as physical with him as possible. When a guy gets on a roll like that, it's hard.”
On playing well against good team and lack of effort against bad teams:
“It's a long season. We are battling through some things right now. We're glad to have Kirk back and Taj is really giving us a lift off the bench. We hope to build on this, but that's a question you always ask. Our guys were fighting. I was pleased with the effort.”
On the game:
“I think we definitely played hard. It always sucks to lose. When we play with that kind of focus and energy, I think things will go well for us in the future.”
On Kobe's performance:
“He's the best player in the world. He's unbelievable out there. What a talent. We had some opportunities, but there's a reason they're world champions. It's not just Kobe. They have a lot of weapons and they are so well coached. They have the best coach in the world and the best player in the world so that can be a pretty tough thing to handle.”
Can they take something away from their improved effort?
“Who knows. We just need to try to build on this effort and get better. When we get blown out by 30 points, how can you say we're improving. But tonight when we bring this energy, we can be happier with ourselves. We missed some shots and made some mistakes but I felt like we competed.”
On their improved effort:
“We kind of addressed it after the game. If we give this kind of effort night in and night out, good things are going to happen for us.”
On their effort on the offensive end:
“On offense as a team. I thought we got off to a good start. Then we started missing some shots in the 4th. We probably got some good looks, but we just couldn't knock them down. They might have worn us down a bit.”
On their overall effort:
“Tonight everyone played hard. There was some urgency there. Now we've got to build on it. Even a loss, we've got to build on how we competed.”
Lakers vs. Bulls Game Preview
By KATE HEDLIN
Posted Dec 14 2009 4:46PM
The Los Angeles Lakers' longest road trip of the season thus far couldn't get off to much of a worse start for Kobe Bryant.
A visit to the United Center might provide him with the chance to bounce back.
Bryant and the Western Conference-leading Lakers visit the struggling Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, trying to rebound from their first loss in 12 games.
Bryant began this five-game road trip after suffering a broken index finger in a home win against Miami on Friday. The finger - and a stomach bug - appeared to significantly affect him in a 102-94 loss at Utah on Saturday. Bryant finished with a season-low 16 points on 7-of-24 shooting.
Bryant, who is averaging 27.8 points, left without speaking to the media afterward. He was getting IV fluids before the game and at halftime.
"I think it was just energy-wise for him," coach Phil Jackson said. "He'd figure out a way to go at it if he had the energy, but I just don't think he had the energy."
The loss snapped an 11-game winning streak by the Lakers (18-4), who despite having all five starters finish in double figures, failed to reach 100 points for the fifth time.
Pau Gasol scored 16 points and had his second consecutive 20-rebound game.
"I'm just staying active and pursuing the ball," he said. "I don't get that many looks offensively so I need to hit the boards to get some points, otherwise I only get like five shots a game."
While it was a tough start to the road trip for the Lakers, the remaining games are far less difficult. All four opponents have losing records, and Chicago (8-14) has lost 10 of 12. Los Angeles is 10-0 against teams with sub-.500 records.
The Lakers have won five straight over the Bulls, including their last two at Chicago. Bryant in particular has enjoyed playing at the United Center, averaging 26.6 points in his last eight games.
Bryant scored 21 points in a 108-93 win at home over Chicago on Nov. 19, which began the Bulls' current slide.
Chicago shot a season-low 32.6 percent in a 106-80 loss to Boston on Saturday. Derrick Rose finished with a team-high 19 points, but scored only eight in the second half when the Bulls were outscored 52-34 by the Eastern Conference leaders.
Chicago had snapped a four-game losing streak in its previous game with an overtime win over Golden State. Its last five losses, though, the Bulls have been outscored by an average of 21.8 points while scoring only 85.8 per game.
The Bulls' struggles have led to mounting pressure on coach Vinny Del Negro.
"We just have to keep playing hard," Luol Deng said. "I don't know what else to tell you."
Part of the problem has been their struggles beyond the arc. They were 1 of 9 on Saturday and are shooting 29.5 percent overall from 3-point range - one of the worst in the NBA. John Salmons, who shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range in 2008-09, is shooting only 32.7 percent this season. He scored a season-low four points on Saturday, but did make 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points against the Lakers last month.
After Tuesday, Chicago has three more games on its season-long six-game homestand - two against teams with losing records.
Copyright 2009 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
Kobe Bryant (avulsion fracture, right index finger) is probable.
DJ Mbenga (sprained right ankle) is day-to-day.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is out.
Kirk Hinrich (left thumb sprain) is probable.
Jerome James (right Achilles) is out.
Tyrus Thomas (left radius fracture) is out.
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead their season series with the Bulls 1-0 after sweeping the last two season series with Chicago 2-0. This will be the 137th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 82-54. The Lakers have gone 7-3 against the Bulls in their last 10 overall games and have won 7-of-8 contests against Chicago dating back to 2005. 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. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 9-2 all-time against the Bulls and have won 7-of- their-last-8. Under head coach Phil Jackson, who coached in Chicago for nine seasons, the Lakers are 14-5 all-time against his former team, 8-2 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 23 career games (19 starts) against Chicago, Kobe Bryant is averaging 24.2 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.
LAKERS RECENT 11-GAME WIN STREAK TIES FOR NINTH LONGEST IN TEAM HISTORY
The Lakers saw their recent 11-game win streak come to and end in a 102-94 loss in Utah on 12/12. With their victory over the Timberwolves December 11th, the Lakers won for the 11th straight time, further surpassing their longest win streak from a season ago when the Lakers strung together 7-straight victories on three occasions, most recently from 1/30/09 – 2/10/09. The Lakers victory over the Jazz December 9th marked the 24th time in franchise history that the team has put together a 10+ game win streak (20 in Los Angeles, 4 in Minneapolis). The Lakers last 11-game win streak came during the 2003-04 season from March 13 – April 2, 2004. The Lakers have not won 12 straight games since a streak of 19 consecutive victories from February 4 – March 13, 2000, part of a 19-game streak that ranks as the 2nd longest in team history.
ARTEST REACHES 10,000 CAREER POINTS AND 2,000 CAREER ASSISTS
With 16 points and one assist December 12 at Utah, Ron Artest scored his 10,000th career point and dished his 2,000th career assist. Currently in his 11th NBA season, Artest has averaged 16.0 points (10,005) and 3.2 assists (2,000) over 626 career games. Furthermore, the Lakers now have four players with over 10,000 career points (Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest). The only other teams in the league with four or more players with 10,000 career points are San Antonio with five players (Tim Duncan, Michael Finley, Antonio McDyess, Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson), Dallas with four players (Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry) and Boston with four players (Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace).
GASOL RECORDS BACK-TO-BACK 20 REBOUND NIGHTS
With 20 rebounds 12/12/09 at Utah and 20 rebounds 12/11/09 vs. Minnesota, Pau Gasol became the first Laker to record 20 rebounds in consecutive games since Lamar Odom posted 22 rebounds 3/23/08 vs. Golden State and 21 rebounds 3/24/08 at Golden State. The only other Laker to record back-to-back 20-plus rebounds in the past thirty years is Vlade Divac, who did so 2/24/95 vs. Charlotte (24 rebounds) and 2/25/95 vs. Los Angeles Clippers (20 rebounds). Prior to that, the most recent Lakers player to post consecutive 20 rebound games was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (20 rebounds 1/24/78 vs. Philadelphia, 21 rebounds 1/27/78 vs. Milwaukee).
LAKERS PLAY STINGIEST DEFENSIVE 4TH QUARTER IN FRANCHISE HISTORY (SHOT CLOCK ERA)
Leading by two entering the 4th quarter of their December 9th contest with Utah, the Lakers played the best defensive 4th quarter in franchise history (shot clock era), holding the Jazz to the third fewest 4th quarter points (6) in the NBA’s shot clock era. During the period, the Lakers forced nine turnovers, including three shot clock violations in a three minute span, while limiting the Jazz to just 2-of-18 shooting from the field. Only the Warriors (2 points, 2/8/04) and the Trail Blazers (5 points, 3/15/06) have scored fewer points in a 4th quarter than what the Lakers limited the Jazz to (7th time a team has scored six 4th quarter points). Overall, the Jazz’s six fourth quarter points were the fewest points in any quarter the Lakers have surrendered since holding the Los Angeles Clippers to three points in the second quarter of 95-68 victory 12/14/99. The franchise record for fewest points allowed in any quarter is two, established in the third quarter of the Lakers 87-80 victory vs. Dallas 4/6/97.
JUST ADD GASOL
Since Pau Gasol made his season debut 11/19 vs. Chicago, the Lakers are 10-1, after winning their first 10 games with Gasol in the lineup, while defeating teams by an average of 13.9 points per game (153). Additionally, with Gasol’s return, all five starters have scored in double-figures four times whereas in the previous 11 games without him in the lineup, not once did that occur. In games played without Gasol since he joined the Lakers, Los Angeles is 15-7 overall (6-4 in 2007-08, 1-0 in 2008-09 and 8-3 in 2009-10). With Gasol in the lineup, the Lakers are 96-23 (.807) in the regular season since he joined the team in February of 2008 (22-5 in 2007-08, 64-17 in 2008-09 and 10-1 in 2009-10) and 30-14 (.682) in the playoffs.
Tuesday’s game against the Bulls will be the first of a back-to-back set with Chicago and Milwaukee. This season, the Lakers are 4-0 in the first game and 2-2 in the second game of back-to-backs. On the year, the Lakers will play 20 sets of back-to-back games, the most the team has played in a single season since playing 22 sets of back-to-backs during the 1999-00 campaign. Last year, the Lakers played 19 sets of back-to-backs, going 14-5 in the first game and 14-5 in the second as well. Charlotte, Detroit and Milwaukee lead the league with 23 back-to-backs each in 2009-10 while New Orleans (15) and San Antonio (17) will play the fewest sets this season.