2 Keys to Victory: Lakers vs. Bulls

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The 22-23 Los Angeles Lakers are set to face the 21-24 Chicago Bulls at home tonight in their second and final matchup this season.

LA fell to the Bulls 124-108 just last month in a game that featured eight double-digit scoring performances for Chicago.

In January, the Purple and Gold are a mere 5-6, an uninspiring record, to say the least; however, there have been many flashes of solid basketball during this stretch.

Ahead of their matchup tonight, let’s dive into our two keys to victory to build momentum and propel the Lakers in the right direction for the rest of this season.

Home Court Advantage

The Lakers have been a completely different team at home versus on the road this season. They have posted a 16-8 record at home compared to 5-16 when away.

This discrepancy is primarily due to the difference in defensive tenacity when playing in L.A. 

The LakeShow has been in the middle of the pack defensively this year, sitting at 14th in the league in defensive rating at 114.1 and 17th in opposing points per game at 115.8.

These numbers, however, look wildly different at home versus away, as the Lakers sit fifth in the league in defensive rating at home at 109.3, surrendering a mere 111.1 points per game (10th best.) On the road, however, the Lakers have the fifth-worst defensive rating at 119.7 and surrender 121.3 points (eighth worst.)

Accounting for much of the defensive struggles on the road has been the Lakers’ inability to crash the defensive boards and prevent second-chance opportunities, as they surrender the second most second-chance points in the league at 16.6, compared to a ninth-best 13.3 at home.

The Bulls are a solid offensive rebounding team, sitting in the top third of the league in that category; however, they are the fourth worst road shooting team in the league, averaging only 45.3% from the field.

The Lakers have managed to keep their foot on the gas pedal defensively when playing at home this season. They should be able to capitalize on the defensive glass from Chicago’s misses to limit opposing second-chance opportunities.

D’Lo Dominance

If you’ve been watching any Lakers basketball recently, you’d know that point guard D’Angelo Russell has been on a tear offensively these past couple of weeks. In the last five games, Russell is averaging 24.8 points on 52.3% shooting from the field, and 50.0% from three.

While this offensive onslaught is encouraging, DLO’s defense has also been tremendous, posting a team-low 99.0 defensive rating in the same span. 

The Lakers need to find a way to capitalize on Russell’s dominance. You can’t ask much more from your point guard, and Head Coach Darvin Ham must emphasize a team commitment to elevating their performance during this critical stretch. 

Ultimately, this Lakers’ win will start on the defensive end, limiting second-chance opportunities and pushing the ball in the transition for easy points.

If LA can find momentum early tonight, they will have the opportunity to carry that energy throughout the game and come out with a win to tie this season series and move to .500.

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