Bill Smith/Chicago Bulls
Bulls beat Lakers in Kobe's final game in Chicago
126-115 win sends Bulls to 29-26 on the year
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p>By Sam Smith | 4.22.2015 | 9:10 p.m.
The Bulls Sunday defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 126-115 in a spirited and fast paced, fun basketball game mostly overshadowed by the final Chicago appearance of legendary Laker Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers made it a game even after trailing by 19 points early in the fourth quarter. But the Bulls got clutch scores from E’Twaun Moore, Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol to breathe a bit and give the fans a chance to give Bryant a standing ovation with 45.3 seconds left. Even Bulls players in the game with Rose at the free throw line applauded. Bryant embraced former teammate Gasol post game in a long hug.
Bryant gave the fans a thankful wave after the game and applauded for the adoring fans.
The Bulls were led by Moore, who tied his career high with 24 points. Rose also scored 24 points and Gasol had 21. Bobby Portis had 17 off the bench and Doug McDermott 16. Bryant had 22 points along with Julius Randle to lead the Lakers.
The Bulls are 29-26. The Lakers fell to 11-46.
It was a glorious and historic game in the United Center as Bryant was feted for his career in his last game as an active player in Chicago. The Bulls produced a video highlight package about Bryant before his introduction with the starters and Bryant received an unusually enthusiastic greeting from the Chicago fans, who were chanting his name.
Bryant then came out shooting, which he does, with an early three pointer that made Kobe fans of the sellout crowd in attendance. Many around the Bulls were saying before the game they got more requests for tickets from friends than any game this season. But then it had to become a basketball game. The pace was accelerated in the first quarter as both teams shot at least 50 percent as the Bulls led 31-30 after one.
Rose got the Bulls going with quick moves out of the backcourt and Gasol looked like he wanted to impress his former teammate as Gasol was three of seven for 10 points. The Bulls led 21-17, but Lakers rookie D’Angelo Russell had a nice close to the quarter with quick moves to get the Lakers within one.
The Bulls got a fast start to the second quarter on back to back long threes from Portis for a 41-32 lead three minutes into the quarter. The Lakers paused and swam back with a 7-0 run behind Brandon Bass. Rose was showing great acceleration to the basket and the Bulls were moving the ball around to for threes and went back ahead 50-43 before Bryant worked himself to the free throw line against Dunleavy and the Lakers came back within 57-54 as Julius Randle was overpowering defenders on one-on-one moves for 15 first half points. Bryant had 10 while Portis had 13 and Rose and Gasol had a dozen each as the Bulls led 62-58 at halftime.
It was a rare sound to start the second half as the fans grew loud in anticipation as Bryant scored the Lakers first four baskets, backing in on the baseline and hitting fadeaways like Michael Jordan did in his later incarnation. That got the Lakers within 69-67 before the Bulls got fast break baskets on full court outlet passes from Rose and Mike Dunleavy as the Bulls offense continued to show speed and a 78-70 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Lakers nudged within 82-78 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter turned into a 97-81 Bulls lead after three quarters with back to back Moore threes and runaway dunks to end the quarter by Moore and Portis. The Lakers weren’t surrendering charging within 104-93 before a Rose scoring drive, and the fans weren’t either with fourth quarter chants to see Bryant one more time. The Bulls still were hanging onto a 106-94 lead with 8:25 left. And then it was another close one down the stretch as the Lakers with Bryant sitting scored on nine of 10 possessions to get within 108-105 with five minutes remaining.