Zach Lavine missed a potential game-winning shot with six seconds left as the defending champion Lakers edged out the Bulls 117-115 on Friday night.
LeBron James led the way for the Lakers with 28 points on 11/21 shooting along with seven rebounds and seven assists. The Bulls took advantage of the Lakers playing without Anthony Davis as they outscored LA by a 62-42 margin in the paint.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 36 points on 63% shooting while Wendell Carter Jr. had a solid outing with 23 points and seven rebounds.
The Bulls lost their second straight game to put their record at 4-6 while the Lakers improved to 7-3.
Friday night marked the Bulls’ third of their four-game West Coast road trip and the first leg of their back-to-back games at the Staples Center. The boys in red and black were trying to bounce back from a loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.
The Lakers came into this one fresh off a loss to the Spurs, who ended their four-game winning streak. The Bulls hadn’t had much success against the Lakers, having lost the last six head-to-head matchups.
Hot Start for the ‘Sweet Life’
The Bulls looked sharp offensively early on thanks to effective ball movement that put players in position to look for their shots and score. A couple of guys made a quick impact, including Wendell Carter Jr. who ended up scoring a few early buckets.
But the Bulls’ main man was the key catalyst for the offense. Zach LaVine undoubtedly came to play as he went 8/8 from the field in the first quarter, including a pair of three-pointers. LaVine ended up with 21 points on 9/11 shooting in the first half.
The Sweet Life’s other half came to life as Coby White (14 points) hit the first four shot attempts of the second quarter for the Bulls, including a pair of three-pointers. White finished the first half with 12 points on 5/10 shooting.
The Lakers, led by LeBron James’ 12 first-half points, would not go away as the defending champions seemed to reply to any Bulls run. An injury to Otto Porter Jr. certainly didn’t help Chicago’s cause as the Lakers shot 51% from the field and led at the half 59-58.
A Close Encounter
Both teams remained close throughout the third quarter as the Bulls continued to show improvement under new coach Billy Donovan. Similar to the first half, Carter Jr. came out strong, hitting his first three shots of the half, including this dunk we may see on a poster one day:
The third quarter remained close. LeBron added eight points and Wes Matthews converted four three-point attempts, but the Lakers were only up 92-88 heading into the final frame.
So Close, Yet So Far
The Bulls continued to hang around and limit any damage LeBron and company tried to instill. Montrezl Harrell was a spark off the bench as he added 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds (four offensive) during the second half. He was an integral part of the Lakers leading by 12 points with only eight minutes remaining.
But the Bulls made a run over the next several minutes as they outscored the Lakers 22-12 to find themselves down by only two points heading into the final minute, showing a fight and determination missing from teams of the recent past.
And the Bulls had a chance to win it. After a LeBron layup to put the Lakers up by four, Garrett Temple hit a big corner three to cut the Laker lead to 116-115 with 37 seconds left.
LeBron then missed a three-point attempt to give the Bulls an opportunity to take the lead in the final seconds, but Zach LaVine’s jumper was just off the mark and the rebound went out of bounds to the Lakers. The Bulls fell just short 117-115.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls (4-6) stay in Los Angeles to play the final game of their four-game West-coast road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers (6-4) this afternoon. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:00 PM CT.