The Lakers (9-39) lost their eighth straight game, falling to the Chicago Bulls (26-19) on Thursday night. Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ 114-91 defeat at Staples Center.
1. Coach Byron Scott was not happy with his team’s effort, given they were down big early and never quite made a charge against the Bulls.
“I didn’t think we came ready to play,” Scott said. “We didn’t compete at the beginning of the game. That was the biggest thing, that was the most crucial.
“You start questioning if this is important to guys,” he continued. “Because it can’t be every now and then. It has to get to the point where you go out and you compete every single night. That’s basically your job, to go out and play hard.”
The Lakers were outscored 32-15 through the opening period.
2. Bulls all-star Jimmy Butler spoke glowingly of Kobe Bryant, who returned from a one-game absence (sore shoulder) to score 10 points in 25 minutes.
“That was a guy that I wanted to be like when I was growing up. I wanted to be in the position that he was for the game,” Butler said. “Before the game, he just told me to keep going, keep playing at the level I’m playing at. It made me smile. I was like, ‘You know what? You’ve got Kobe’s respect in this league, then you must be doing something right.’”
Butler, who led both teams with 26 points and 10 assists, said Bryant is “one of the greatest to ever [play basketball].”
3. The Bulls’ Pau Gasol, who won two titles with Bryant and the Lakers, also had a big night, scoring 21 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists.
“We went through a lot,” Gasol said of Bryant. “We had incredible times. That’s my career as an NBA player. We had some rougher times, because of all the changes and the decisions that were made. But we always stuck together, and our relationship is stronger.”
4. Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 16 points. He’s hit for double figures in his last 16 games.
On the season, Clarkson is the Lakers’ third-leading scorer, at 15.2 a night, but he’s gaining on Bryant’s 15.7 and Lou Williams’ 15.5.
Clarkson is also the most efficient of the three, at 43.7% from the field and 33.8% from three-point range, ahead of Bryant’s 34.6% and 25%, and Williams’ 40.5% and 33.2%.
5. The Lakers are still in last place in the Western Conference, better than just the Philadelphia 76ers (7-40).
The Lakers are 12 games behind the eighth-place Portland Trail Blazers (21-26).
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)
Looking ahead to the 2016 NBA draft lottery, the Lakers now have a 55.8% chance of a top-three pick in next June’s draft. If the Lakers fall below third in the lottery, Philadelphia will get the team’s pick as part of the Steve Nash trade, via the Suns.
If the Lakers climb a spot in the standings, their odds for a top-three selection dip to 46.9%. If the Lakers fall behind the Sixers to last place, their odds improve to 64.3%.