Lakers roll with role players: 5 takeaways from defeat of Bulls

Lakers forward Jared Dudley asks for a timeout after grabbing a loose ball against the Bulls.
Lakers forward Jared Dudley asks for a timeout after grabbing a loose ball against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at Staples Center.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Lakers came up with a tight 117-115 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at Staples Center.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

1. With Anthony Davis (adductor strain) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope sidelined because of injuries, the Lakers were going to need their much-discussed depth to carry some of the load, especially on the second night of back-to-back games.

Led by LeBron James (when aren’t they?), the Lakers’ role players all contributed, with nine players scoring at least six points.


“I think a lot of guys contributed, I think it was a team win,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It was far from perfect obviously. … I think we just, we hung in there. We weren’t playing our best basketball, second night of a back-to-back, but we hung in there and grinded it out.”

2. The Lakers struggled on defense for the second consecutive game, moving the team from second in efficiency on Wednesday back to eighth on Friday after back-to-back clunkers.

Highlights from the Lakers’ 117-115 win over the Chicago Bulls on Friday night at Staples Center.

It’s been the story of the first 10 games, the Lakers sometimes showing all their potential, while other times looking like a group of strangers learning how to work with one another.

“Through the first 10 games, we’ve played B, B-plus basketball,” James said, pointing to newcomers Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol and Wesley Matthews. “And that’s absolutely OK because we are a team that added basically five new pieces to the rotation in Trez, Dennis, Marc, Wes and also Talen [Horton-Tucker]. We’ve added five new pieces to our regular rotation and we’re still learning each other.”

3. The Lakers threw a curveball Friday, moving Kyle Kuzma back into the second unit and inserting Markieff Morris and Wesley Matthews into the starting five.


Vogel said he wanted to use Matthews because of his experience guarding Zach LaVine last season with the Bucks — spoiler, this didn’t work as LaVine scored 38 — and Morris because his minutes have been cut so far this year.

Wesley Matthews’ four three-pointers, Montrezl Harrell’s relentless force and LeBron James’ usual excellence helped the Lakers win 117-115 over Chicago.

Jan. 8, 2021

Even with the LaVine scoring binge, both Matthews and Morris made huge shots, the duo combining to score 25 points.

4. Alex Caruso and Horton-Tucker deserve special recognition for their play off the bench.

With Caldwell-Pope out and Matthews starting, Caruso and Horton-Tucker teamed for some really positive minutes.

Caruso, in just his second game back after missing a week because of a COVID-19 close contact, drilled three three-point shots while helping cool off Bulls guard Coby White. And Horton-Tucker, playing against his hometown Bulls, attacked and made plays on the offensive end with great confidence.

5. Jared Dudley is normally the victory cigar, a glue guy in the locker room who can mentor young players while chopping it up with superstar vets. But on Friday, the Lakers needed him to give them a spark.

While he grabbed only a single rebound, Dudley gave the Lakers some life late in the fourth.


“I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some real, real true professionals when it comes to that role, guys that are stars in their role,” James said. “And Dudz is another one of those guys that whatever the team needs, I mean literally, whatever the team needs, he’s ready for whatever. Both on and off the floor. That’s a diamond in the rough to have for a championship-aspiring ball club and Dudz has been that for us.”