After losing to the Bulls on Sunday, the Lakers bounced back and extracted some payback with a 121-110 victory in Chicago on Wednesday night. The win brings the Lakers back to .500 on the season and gets them off to a good start on their five-game road trip.
The Lakers welcomed D'Angelo Russell back to the court this game, and with his return the team debuted a new starting lineup featuring Russell, Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt flanking LeBron and Anthony Davis. Despite this group's newness -- they'd logged only a handful of minutes together heading into this game -- they came together quickly, setting the tone against the Bulls in both halves to the lead to the team to the victory.
The foursome of Russell, LeBron, Reaves, and Davis all scored in double figures on the night, but it was AD's performance that led the way. In the return to his hometown, Davis dominated Chicago to the tune of 38 points (13-20 shooting) and 10 rebounds to go along with four assists, two steals, and two blocks. Davis was everywhere on both ends of the floor, dunking the ball with force offensively and then saving baskets with big blocks on the other end defensively.
Coming off Sunday's game that featured only eight field goal attempts, AD looked determined to not let a repeat performance happen in this one. Aggressive from the outset and really looking to take advantage of his size advantage inside, AD not only attacked off the dribble and out of the post, but went to the offensive glass with force, grabbing five total and contributing to the Lakers massive advantage on the backboards (45 to 32) and in second chance points (29 to 6).
In just his second game back from injury, LeBron showed off a greater rhythm on both ends of the floor, joining AD with a high-level performance that the Bulls did not have many answers for. LeBron scored 25 points on 10-19 shooting while grabbing seven rebounds and dishing four assists.
Showing off exquisite shot making from all over the floor, LeBron canned pull up jumpers and fadeaways out of the post alike, all while leaving the defense flustered. And when transition opportunities were presented, LeBron seized them with his typical vigor, racing up court for easy finishes with a rhythm and flow as though he'd been back for weeks rather than just the days it's actually been.
While LeBron and AD dominated the front court, Reaves and Russell dominated from the guard spots. Russell, like LeBron, played with a steadiness that belied his missed time, tallying 17 points while connecting on seven of his 12 shot attempts to go along with four rebounds and four assists.
Austin, meanwhile, scored 19 points, missing only one of his nine shots from the field and none of his four shots from the foul line, for a nearly perfect night. Add in a team-high five assists, and he was both scoring threat and playmaker for a Lakers team that seemed to have those qualities in abundance in their starting lineup.
On the Bulls side, they fought valiantly and made inroads multiple times over the course of the game against some of the Lakers bench units. Nikola Vucevic led Chicago with 29 points and 12 rebounds, while DeMar DeRozan (22 points) and Zach LaVine (16 points) also chipped in with double digit scoring nights. Add in good production from Coby White (17 points) and Ayo Dosunmu (12 points), and the Bulls never let the game get too far out of reach by continuing to play hard and showing some timely shot making.
But the Lakers core four of LeBron, AD, Reaves, and Russell -- both together and when staggered more in the 2nd half -- proved to be too much and always seemed to counter the Bulls with a run of their own to keep their opponent at arm's distance. And that was all they needed to pull away late to win the game.
The Lakers will look to build on this performance and establish some momentum when they visit the Timberwolves for one of the more important games of their season on Friday.