Jimmy Butler showed why he deserved to be an All-Star. Pau Gasol proved he could have been one too.
The Lakers, meanwhile, reminded everyone how bad they’d been this season, tossing up another 48-minute yawner in a 114-91 loss Thursday to the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center.
Fans began booing late in the first quarter and the Lakers already down 18 after Butler rang up three consecutive layups.
“They had every right to [boo],” said Lakers Coach Byron Scott, who questioned when the Lakers would play with intent. “From my standpoint, you start questioning if this is important to guys because it can’t be ‘every now and then.’”
Public-address announcer Lawrence Tanter kept calling out the opponent’s easy baskets, one after the other, a repetitive cycle in a season stuck in sleep mode.
Thankfully, Groundhog Day is next Tuesday. Maybe Punxsutawney Phil can stop the boredom.
At least lottery enthusiasts could be excited.
The Lakers (9-39) are only 11/2 games ahead of Philadelphia for the NBA’s worst record. Maybe they’ll hang on to their top-three protected pick. Maybe they’ll even get the No. 1 selection at the May draft lottery.
Add it to a growing list of “ifs,” “maybes” and “Zzzzzzzs.”
Last Saturday, Kobe Bryant let teammates know how, um, disappointing all the losing felt. The Lakers had just fallen by 18 to Portland when he took over the locker room.
The Lakers have lost eight consecutive games, two since Bryant addressed the team. A ninth consecutive loss seemed inevitable with a designated road game Friday against the Clippers.
The Lakers’ longest losing streak is 10 games in 1993-94. Stay tuned.
Bryant, by the way, had 10 points on four-for-13 shooting Thursday.
It was the fewest points he scored against Chicago since he had five as a rookie in February 1997.
Butler had 26 points and 10 assists for Chicago while Gasol had 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Bulls guard E’Twaun Moore is pressured by Lakers defenders Ryan Kelly and Marcelo Huertas.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
The Lakers rookies watch the final moments of a 114-91 loss to the Bulls from the bench.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Bulls forward Taj Gibson, front right, dunks as the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant (24) and forward Julius Randle (30) watch during the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant defends Bulls forward Pau Gasol.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Bulls forward Taj Gibson dunks during the first half against the Lakers.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, passes while under pressure from Bulls guard E’Twaun Moore during the first half.(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
Lakers center Roy Hibbert is surrounded by Bulls defenders Taj Gibson and E’Twwaun Moore as he holds onto a loose ball while on the floor during a Jan. 28 game at Staples Center.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers star Kobe Bryant greets former teammate Pau Gasol before the game against the Bulls.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Bulls forward Pau Gasol and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant joke during a Jan. 28 game at Staples Center.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) is called for a foul as Bulls guard Bobby Portis, center, slices through the defense of Bryant and Lakers forward Brandon Bass.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Gasol, 35, was left off the All-Star team and lamented the loss of the center position on the ballot, which allowed voters to choose three “frontcourt” players and two backcourt players.
“The way that it is now, it’s all point guards, shooting guards and small forwards in the starting lineups,” Gasol told reporters. “It’s kind of unfair for the bigger guys who work hard and play well to not have the same type of shot. It is a game where people want to see those flashy guys.”
The five-time All-Star added, “I’ve played at a level where I should be recognized.”
The Lakers continued to wonder about a different part of All-Star weekend. You know, the stuff that happens two days before the main event.
Scott was still unsure why Julius Randle wasn’t picked for the Rising Stars Challenge.
In another peek at the future, rookie D’Angelo Russell might return to the starting lineup “soon,” Scott said, maybe after the All-Star break.
But Russell scored only three points on one-for-seven shooting Thursday and said he didn’t deserve to start based on his recent play.
Who knows how low the Lakers will be after the All-Star break? And, of greater importance, will anybody care?