Lakers are off their game on the road, again, in 88-84 loss to Bulls
If this really was Phil Jackson’s last game in Chicago, it wasn’t one he’ll remember.
The Lakers lost to the Bulls in a game that was sloppy, slushy and gray, much like the day-old snow covering the city Friday.
They couldn’t stop Derrick Rose and continued to have trouble getting out of the 80s, their latest setback a turnover-filled 88-84 loss at United Center.
If winning away from home is the mark of a good team, the Lakers don’t look anything like two-time defending champions. They are 6-5 on the road and could easily be 5-6 if not for Derek Fisher’s last-second layup Wednesday in a designated away game against the Clippers.
Meanwhile, down in Texas, San Antonio and Dallas are 8-1 on the road and not coincidentally sit one-two in the Western Conference.
“They’re playing much better than we are,” said Jackson, the Lakers’ coach. “That shows in their road record.”
It was a strange game in many ways, one that again underscored the Lakers’ depth issues down low and their penchant for getting away from what works for them.
Kobe Bryant (23 points) and Pau Gasol (21 points) used the two-man game to perfection in the first quarter, continually finding each other for easy baskets on the way to a 22-12 Lakers lead, but then the fun ended with a 10-point, eight-turnover second quarter.
That’s right. The Lakers had 32 points at halftime.
“I’m not quite sure exactly what happened,” said Gasol, who made nine of 15 shots. “There are certain times . . . we get away from things that have worked at points in the game. Obviously we have a pretty wide offense with a lot of stuff. It’s easy to do that at times. It was working well and we had a nice lead also. It would have been nice to continue to explore that a little more.”
The Lakers were averaging 108 points a game before a slim 87-86 victory over the Clippers, and then came another trip to sub-90 territory amid 21 turnovers in Chicago.
They hope Andrew Bynum and Theo Ratliff come back next week, but with Derrick Caracter limited to two minutes Friday because of a sprained ankle, they were forced to play Luke Walton at power forward in a second-quarter lineup that also consisted of Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown and Gasol.
“It would be good to have a little deeper rotation, especially in the inside game for us because right now we’re a bit limited,” Gasol said. “It’s been that way for a while. It’s tough times right now as far as our options as far as bodies. We’re looking forward to getting bodies back.”
Despite it all, the Lakers trailed by three after Fisher’s three-pointer with 48.4 seconds left. But Rose dribbled through traffic near the free-throw line and stepped back for a 15-foot jumper with 25.2 seconds left. He finished with 29 points and nine assists.
The only M-V-P chants in the arena on this night were for Rose.
About the only good thing that happened to the Lakers was Bryant’s passing John Havlicek for 11th on the all-time NBA scoring list with 26,398 points.
Other than that, not a great night for the visitors. Not a strong way to start a six-game trek away from Staples Center.