The Bulls Thursday went to the land of make believe and made believers of the Los Angeles Lakers with a dominating wire-to-wire 114-91 victory.
The Bulls moved to 26-19 as they remain in Los Angeles through the weekend to play the Clippers Sunday. The Lakers fell to 9-39 in Kobe Bryant’s farewell season.
The Bulls looked as sharp and determined as they have all season, moving the ball, speeding up the pace and delivering a performance worthy of 80s Showtime.
Jimmy Butler led with 26 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and foul steals. Pau Gasol had 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and Derrick Rose added 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Taj Gibson had nine points, 11 rebounds and two blocks and Doug McDermott had 15 points off the bench.
It was a Bulls fun fest as they dominated the woeful Lakers across the boards and on the boards. The Bulls doubled the Lakers in inside points with 21 fast break points and 29 assists. Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 16 points. Bryant had 10.
Gasol got overlooked for the All-Star team while Butler made it as a reserve. Both took it out early on the Lakers with Gasol scoring the Bulls first four points, including a neat spin move past Bryant on a switch, and then Butler converted a pair of steals into fast break layups in a 12-2 Bulls run that enabled the Bulls to take a 32-15 lead after the first quarter as Butler had eight and Gasol six. Rose returned from his hamstring issue to start with the surprise E’Twaun Moore starting at small forward for Tony Snell. Rose then got it going to start the second quarter with several drives that had the Hollywood crowd gasping and short jumpers, Rose hitting his first five attempts as the Bulls took a 41-24 lead four minutes into the second quarter.
The Bulls extended that to 43-24 on a McDermott double pump before the Bulls returned to settling for jump shots without movement. The Lakers pulled within 47-35 before Butler and Gasol assisted each other, including their backdoor lob play, as the Bulls led 58-40 at the half. Butler celebrated his All-Star selection with 17 first half points as the Bulls shot 53 percent. The Lakers had a bit of a run to open the second half, pulling within 64-47, but then the Bulls began to run.
p>The Bulls began pushing the ball up court, the big men throwing outlet passes to the guards and passes ahead to wing players driving as coach Fred Hoiberg drew it up months ago. Rose had an underhand lob for a Butler dunk, Rose had a Magic Johnsonesque lookaway on a three on two break and Butler faked and swung the ball for a McDermott three in an offense that looked so in sync. It all led to a 90-71 Bulls lead going into the fourth quarter.