The Lakers (13-34) ended a nine-game losing streak Thursday night, beating the Chicago Bulls (30-18) in double overtime. Here are five takeaways from their 123-118 win at Staples Center.
1) With Kobe Bryant (rotator cuff) out for the season, and Nick Young sidelined with a sprained ankle, Coach Byron Scott is focusing primarily on player development over wins and losses. Scott was going to ride his younger players Thursday night, regardless of final score.
“I thought it was great for the young fellas,” said Scott. “It’s going to help them grow up even faster.”
Jordan Clarkson got 43 valuable minutes, making mistakes at the end of regulation but coming through in the double-overtime session. He finished with 18 points, four assists and three turnovers.
Scott’s lineup down the stretch, until Robert Sacre fouled out, was Wayne Ellington, Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill, Clarkson and Sacre.
2) Ellington played a team-high, and career-high 46 minutes, but said he felt great after the game. He could have kept going, no problem (if needed).
The veteran guard’s first two baskets at the start of double-overtime were the tipping point. The Bulls just couldn’t keep pace, and Ellington’s scores seemed to give his teammates confidence in their own shots down the stretch.
Ellington finished with 23 points on 9 of 19 shooting, getting a lot of his points off drives with his three-point shot askew (1-6).
With Clarkson struggling a bit against Chicago’s ball pressure, Ellington’s steady ball-handling skills helped the Lakers get into their offense.
“We made shots,” said Clarkson. “Big shots by J. Hill and Wayne.”
3) Sacre was solid, taking advantage of his years of experience guarding Pau Gasol in practice the last few seasons.
Jeremy Lin helped with 11 points and five assists. Boozer scored 16 with eight boards.
The team really rode Hill in the post against noted defender Joakim Noah. Hill finished with 26 points in 41-1/2 minutes on 11 of 22 shooting.
“Hill just played a great game,” said Lin. “He was very composed, he was steady. Down the stretch, we really tried to go to him. To be honest, he should have had a game-winner that rattled in and out” at the end of the first overtime.
4) The Lakers have won five consecutive, multiple-overtime games.
The last time the Lakers went to double-overtime was an April 22, 2012, win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The team is now 7-7 against the Eastern Conference (5-3 at home), but just 6-27 versus the West. The Lakers are still comfortably in 14th place, four games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves (8-37).
The next closest franchise to catching the Lakers, in the draft lottery rankings, is the Orlando Magic (15-34).
5) Gasol was moved by the reception from the fans at Staples Center, and even a groggy Kobe Bryant showing up a day after shoulder surgery to greet his former teammate.
While his team lost, Gasol put up big numbers with 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots.
After the game he reminisced about his time with the Lakers.
“It was incredible,” said Gasol. “What I experienced here, what I was able to accomplish, what we were able to accomplish as a team for a few years, it was very special. That group of guys and that group of coaches was really special. We did some amazing things.”