Someone handed Tyson Chandler a beverage before the game in the Bulls' locker room. Perhaps to wash down a Prozac?
"I've been, pretty much from the beginning of the season, really mentally fatigued," Chandler acknowledged before the Bulls surprised the Lakers with a 96-93 victory Sunday night at the Staples Center.
"I'm a real emotional person, and when things are not going well for the team and I don't feel I'm playing well or like I'm capable of playing, it kind of all adds up. I want to live up to my contract and more. The organization made a big promise to me, so I want to get out there and be successful and help my team win. I am disappointed in myself."
Not after Sunday night, especially the way Chandler not only changed a point-blank shot down the stretch but also displayed the kind of hustle, defense and activity that's been missing from his game this season.
It was crucial in a thrilling victory that broke the Bulls' three-game losing streak and was just their second in 43 attempts on the so-called circus trip when the Bulls clear the United Center for the jugglers and clowns.
"When the circus comes to town, we're the circus on the road," Chandler joked after grabbing 15 rebounds and coming up with the key defensive play, a block of Andrew Bynum with the game tied 93-93 and 42.9 seconds left.
Chandler then helped force Kobe Bryant, who hit the Bulls with 43 points, into missing a potentially tying three-pointer with two seconds left. Lamar Odom retrieved the miss and then missed at the buzzer as the Bulls moved to 4-5 and 1-3 on the trip, which continues Friday night in San Antonio.
Chris Duhon led the Bulls with 21 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter. Michael Sweetney had 20 points and 12 rebounds after a monster 15 points and 10 rebounds in the first half as the Bulls tried to hold off Bryant, who torched them for 43 points.
Several times the Bulls pulled away by nine in the first half, only to see Bryant shoot the Lakers back within two at halftime and within three opening the final quarter.
The Lakers then surged ahead to take an 87-79 lead with just over six minutes remaining after a three-pointer by Sasha Vujacic.
No, the Lakers (4-6) don't have many weapons besides Bryant, with teenager Bynum playing extensively down the stretch along with ancient Aaron McKie.
"I don't see why they'll even go guard the other guys," Lakers coach Phil Jackson joked before the game. "They should all just go guard him. Put five against one."
It seemed like that was necessary, but then coming out of a timeout with 6:13 left, Kirk Hinrich and Chris Duhon combined for two three-pointers apiece. And with the Lakers seemingly assured of a lead with about 40 seconds left, Chandler rose up to thwart Bynum and the Lakers, whom the Bulls held without a field goal the last four minutes.
"People have to feel my presence out there," Chandler said. "I get down mostly on myself. I may say things about the coach, but the majority is hitting home.
"I got to get out there and play hard. I cleared my mind of everything tonight. I had a talk with my mom and brother-in-law and they were like, `You don't look like you're having fun out there.' They said, `Play. Play for the love of the game and quit playing for everything else.'
"I've been missing this year getting over and helping my guys out. I was so good in the past and wasn't giving my guys help."
This time he did.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times