AD, Lakers get rapid revenge on Bulls
The Bulls really should be beyond this stage by now, letting a sub-.500 team stroll into the United Center and cause problems.
Sure, this was the Los Angeles Lakers, with LeBron James, Anthony Davis and plenty of fans. They wanted payback for the Bulls beating them in L.A. on Sunday. And yes, the Bulls have been no-shows at home too many times this season.
But Wednesday's opponent is struggling to stay afloat for the play-in tournament, just like the Bulls. The Lakers were mostly dominant, coming away with a 121-110 victory that wasn't as close as the final score.
"It's OK, it's all a part of basketball," Patrick Beverley said after the game. "The game is blessings or lessons and the last two have been lessons. We're fine. We're good."
Davis put on a show in his hometown with 38 points and 10 rebounds, but he also gave up 29 points and 12 boards to counterpart Nikola Vucevic. James added 25 points.
Lakers guard Austin Reaves gave the "too small" sign after hitting a runner in the lane late in the game, mimicking Beverley's move on Sunday. But the Bulls had endured more than enough insults by that point.
"I was waiting on it," Beverley said. "I knew it was going to come out sometime tonight. I'm glad he did it, though."
The Lakers finished with a 24-11 edge in free throws made and 29-6 in second-chance points. Bulls coach Billy Donovan turned to Patrick Williams to add height to the lineup, but he finished with just 2 points and 1 rebound.
"We're not particularly a tall team, so we have to do a better job putting bodies on people," Beverley said. "I think Vuc did a heck of a job today, battled with AD tit-for-tat the entire game. But we do have to do a better job of rebounding the ball and we will."
While the Lakers (38-38) raced to an early 17-point advantage, Vucevic scored the Bulls' first 13 points. The Bulls didn't record a non-Vucevic basket until Coby White finished a lay-in with 3:11 left in the opening quarter.
The Bulls took advantage of their deeper bench to take the lead in the second quarter, but the sub strength was available for a limited time only. With the starters back on the floor, the Lakers ended the first half with a 10-0 run, then built an 18-point lead in the third quarter.
The Bulls (36-40) were never within single digits during the final 11 minutes. DeMar DeRozan (22 points) and Zach LaVine (16) couldn't string together enough points to make a difference. White had a nice performance off the bench, finishing with 17 points and a team-high 9 assists.
"When we played them in L.A., we shot the ball really well," Donovan said. "We shot it incredibly well and really made a lot of timely shots.
"(When shots aren't falling,) can you not foul as much, can you rebound the ball, can you do a better job taking care of it? Those things, I think, inevitably -- even though we didn't shoot the ball well -- it was those other things that add up that made it difficult to overcome."
So this was two games in a row when the Bulls had a chance to move up in the standings and challenge Atlanta or Toronto for eighth and ninth place. Now there are just six games left in the regular season and 10th place will be the best the Bulls can do if they keep playing like this.
"I just want to play a good brand of basketball and wherever we fall, we fall," Beverley said. "We're prepared for anything. Billy D's going to make sure we're prepared for anything."
Lakers rookie Max Christie, a Rolling Meadows High School grad, missed the trip to Chicago due to a G-League assignment.