Lakers move into playoff position with third consecutive victory
Lakers 90, Bulls 81 (end of regulation)
The Lakers won their third consecutive game on Sunday afternoon by defeating the Chicago Bulls. It didn’t take late-game heroics or a 25-point comeback as in their previous wins over the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Hornets.
The Lakers led most of the game, including by as many as 18 points, against a short-handed Bulls squad.
With the victory the Lakers improved to 33-31, climbing past the Utah Jazz into eighth place in the Western Conference. The Bulls are now 37-27.
Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant and Bulls guard Nate Robinson tied as leading scorers with 19 each. Bryant also led the Lakers with nine assists while committing only two turnovers.
The Lakers had six players in double figures while shooting 45.3% from the field.
Lakers center Dwight Howard pulled down 21 rebounds while blocking four shots and scoring 16 points. He missed all five of his free throws, though.
Center Joakim Noah had a strong game as well for the Bulls with 18 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks.
Metta World Peace had a difficult shooting night, missing all six of his three-point shots, but he matched Carlos Boozer’s 12 points. Boozer had a difficult time scoring against the physical World Peace, making only four of 16 shots from the field.
Chicago played without Derrick Rose, Rip Hamilton, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson.
The Lakers are still missing big men Pau Gasol, who should return from a foot injury, and Jordan Hill, who is out for the season with a hip injury.
Lakers 73, Bulls 61 (end of third quarter)
Steve Nash found his shot and the Lakers quickly pulled ahead of the Bulls by as many as 18 points. The veteran guard finished the third quarter with 16 points on six-of-nine shooting.
Dwight Howard fought through foul trouble to collect 17 rebounds. He has eight points and two blocked shots. Fellow All-Star Joakim Noah leads the Bulls with 12 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Once Howard sat with his fourth foul, the Bulls were able to whittle the Lakers’ lead down to 12.
Nate Robinson leads all scorers with 17 points, although Chicago is shooting only 36.4% from the field.
The Lakers are shooting 45.6% from the field.
Lakers 44, Bulls 40 (halftime)
The Lakers briefly gave up their lead to the Bulls before pulling ahead by six points. With the chance to make it eight, Metta World Peace was called for a moving screen and Nate Robinson scored in the final seconds of the second quarter to make it a four-point game at the half.
Robinson was the game’s leading scorer with 13 points -- followed by Dwight Howard’s eight.
The Bulls shot 40.5% from the field. The Lakers shot 41.7% but only two of 17 from three-point range.
While the overall stats were relatively even, the Lakers had a sizable lead on the offensive glass, 12-4.
Lakers 20, Bulls 16 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers took an early lead over the Chicago Bulls despite missing all eight of their three-point shots as well as three free throws.
Dwight Howard led all scorers with six points as the Lakers shot 43.5% from the field. Kobe Bryant was the only Lakers’ starter who didn’t score.
The Bulls were led by Nate Robinson, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer with four points apiece as Chicago shot only 33.3% from the field.
Chicago started Marco Belinelli and Robinson in the backcourt in place of injured guards Kirk Hinrich, Rip Hamilton and Derrick Rose.
The Lakers (32-31) will host the Chicago Bulls (35-27) on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center.
While injuries have left Chicago short-handed, they’re still the stingiest team in the league, giving up only 91.4 points a game.
After comeback victories against two of the worst teams in the league, the Lakers might have a more difficult time if they fall into a hole against the Bulls.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Bulls.
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