Gasol helped the
The Bulls have been struggling to stay healthy this season, but are still one of the top-four teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls will be without Mike Dunleavy (back), Nikola Mirotic (appendicitis), Joakim Noah (shoulder) and Kirk Hinrich (quadriceps).
Guard Derrick Rose is expected to play despite recent hamstring and back issues.
At 35-years old, Gasol is still an extremely productive player in the NBA, averaging 16.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists a night.
Gasol is shooting 46.8% from the field, much lower than his efficiency when the Lakers were winning titles in 2009 (56.7%) and 2010 (53.6%).
Gasol will presumably start at center for the Bulls, and Bryant at small forward (or potentially shooting guard in place of Williams). Gasol and Bryant will face each other only twice before Bryant retires after the season.
After Thursday night's battle, the Lakers visit Chicago on Feb. 21.
Bryant, is averaging 15.8 points a game this season and shooting 34.7% from the field.
Together, in their respective primes, Bryant and Gasol were a powerful tandem.
Butler is also a feisty defender, who likes to play big minutes. He'll probably draw Bryant throughout the game.
The Lakers also need to deal with players like
Julius Randle is expected to keep his starting spot over the short term over rookie Larry Nance Jr. who recently missed four games because of a sore knee.
The Lakers were routinely beaten soundly in Nance's absence, then the team came within one play of knocking off the Mavericks on Nance's return Monday.
The Bulls are vulnerable, given their various injuries. The Lakers have a credible shot, but shouldn't be favored to win.