Without Kobe Bryant, the Lakers fell apart late and lost to the Chicago Bulls, 113-93, Thursday at United Center.
Wesley Johnson had 19 points as Bryant sat out a second consecutive game so he could rest.
The Lakers (9-20) trailed by only six points going into the fourth quarter but couldn’t overtake Chicago, giving way rapidly in the game’s final few minutes.
Chicago forward Pau Gasol had 23 points and 13 rebounds in his first game against his former team. He also had three assists and two blocked shots. Then he shared a long embrace with Bryant after the game.
Jimmy Butler had 21 points and Derrick Rose added 20 for the Bulls (20-9).
The Bulls had 57 rebounds, including 20 on the offensive end. The Lakers had 39 rebounds.
Nick Young and Jeremy Lin struggled on offense, combining to make three of 14 shots. Young played only 17 minutes primarily because his defense was lacking, Coach Byron Scott said.
Bryant cited “old age” when asked beforehand why he sat out the game. He said there was only a “slim” chance he would return Friday against Dallas.
Lakers forward Carlos Boozer had 14 points in his first game against his former team. He spent four seasons with the Bulls before being waived by them via the amnesty provision.
Bulls 83, Lakers 77 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers used a solid third quarter to pull to within six points of Chicago on Thursday at United Center.
Wesley Johnson has 17 points and Jordan Hill 14 for the Lakers in their second consecutive game without Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers trailed by 11 at halftime but improved their defense in the third quarter to make it close going into the fourth.
Pau Gasol has 21 points in his first game against his former team. Jimmy Butler has 19 for the Bulls.
Bryant is sitting out because he needs more rest, a decision he made after talking with Coach Byron Scott. The Lakers haven’t moved the ball as well as they did in a surprising victory over Golden State but they have forced 10 turnovers while committing only three.
Bulls 58, Lakers 47 (halftime)
The Lakers weren’t showing much without Kobe Bryant, trailing the Chicago Bulls at halftime, 58-47, Thursday at United Center.
Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol each had 11 points by halftime while Bryant sat out a second consecutive game so he could rest.
The Bulls (19-9) shot 54.5% in the first half and led by as many as 16 points.
The Lakers (9-19) didn’t have the same defensive energy they showed two days earlier in a 115-105 victory against Golden State.
There were no Lakers players in double figures at the half. Ed Davis led the team with eight points.
Bryant said beforehand that “old age” was the reason for his general body soreness. He said there was only a “slim” chance he would return Friday against Dallas.