Late Lakers show ends up trouncing Bulls
There were a couple of surprising twists Tuesday night at the United Center.
For starters, the rebuilding Bulls dominated a basketball game against a good opponent -- for three quarters anyway.
The other was Lakers fans basically taking over the UC, which is unusual, maybe unprecedented, for post MJ-era basketball in Chicago.
Needless to say, the Bulls' 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter didn't last long. The Lakers launched a quick 16-0 run and beat the Bulls with relative ease 118-112.
The Bulls (2-6) did some things well. They shot 50.6 percent from the field overall and a season-best 43.8 percent from 3-point range. They led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter.
But as has been the case all season, when the opponent cranked up the intensity, the Bulls had no answer. They have squandered fourth-quarter leads in 4 of the 6 losses.
"I came in, I talked to the guys. I told them, 'At some point, you've got to hurt,' " Bulls forward Thad Young said. "We've got to stop the bleeding at some point, but it's got to hurt. When it starts to hurt too bad, then that's when we're going to make gains."
LeBron James finished with 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Chicago native Anthony Davis was quiet for most of the night, finishing with 15 points and 7 boards.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 26 points, while Otto Porter and Coby White scored 18 each. White had 16 at halftime.
There's not much to explain about this one besides this is what happens to bad teams in the NBA. When the going gets tough in the fourth quarter, only the strong survive, and the Bulls are a relatively young team with a roster that lacks proven scorers or elite athleticism.
"You're always disappointed when you don't win," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. "You're always disappointed when you have a lead and you don't hang on to it. I'm not discouraged with who we have or where we're going or what we're doing. I'm not."
The Lakers' 16-0 run basically happened with no starters on the floor for either team. Kyle Kuzma and Dwight Howard started causing problems, and the Bulls didn't have the poise to recover. Boylen was asked if he'd put the starters back in sooner if he had it to do over.
"Nope, because I'm going to develop this bench and I'm going to develop this team," he said. "I've got 15 guys to develop and I'm going to play them in those moments and they're going to learn how to play winning basketball."
To be fair, the starters didn't help much when they did return. One rough sequence came when Tomas Satoransky tried a handoff to LaVine, but Lakers guard Alex Caruso got his hand in the way and stole the ball. LaVine tried to foul intentionally, but Caruso still made the basket for a 3-point play. After a Bulls airball, James found Quin Cook for a corner 3-pointer to put the Lakers up 104-97.
The Lakers were within 44-40 midway through the second quarter when the Bulls unleashed a 19-4 run. White, Lavine and Porter knocked down 3-pointers in a span of four possessions to get it started. The Bulls shot 54.3 percent in the first half, compared to 41.3 percent for the Lakers.
The Bulls won the rebounds, turnovers, fastbreak points, points in the paint in the first half. It was a performance that hardly seemed possible during the their slow start to the season.
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls
Bulls game dayBulls vs. Atlanta Hawks, Wednesday 6:30 p.m. at State Fram Arena
TV: NBCSCH; Radio: WSCR 670-AM
Outlook: PG Trae Young was set to return Tuesday against San Antonio after missing just one game with a sprained right ankle. Meanwhile, PF John Collins was handed a 25-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy. … Young was averaging 26.8 points and 7.3 assists heading into Tuesday's action, while Collins was at 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds. The Hawks' third-leading scorer is former Bull Jabari Parker with 13.8 ppg, while SG DeAndre Bembry is at 10.2 ppg. … The Bulls have won four straight games in Atlanta. On the last visit, they pulled off an epic 168-161 victory in three overtimes on March 1.
Next: Houston Rockets, 7 p.m. Saturday at the United Center
-- Mike McGraw