Lakers top Bulls, move back to .500
The Lakers took care of business tonight in a must-win rematch, defeating the Bulls 121-110.
Los Angeles was led by Anthony Davis, who put up 38 points and 10 rebounds in the return to his hometown. LeBron James showed that he is continuing to get his legs back more every game, finishing with 25 points and 7 assists. Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell also had strong performances, with 19 and 17 points, respectively.
AUSTIN REAVES HIT PAT BEV WITH THE TOO SMALL CELLY— Lakers All Day Everyday (@LADEig) March 30, 2023
THAT PACK HITTING TONIGHT 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/8j21nGutqB
Finally, since it has to be mentioned, former Laker Patrick Beverley went 0/5 from the field, finishing the game with 0 points and a -32 plus-minus, capped off by getting hit with the “too small” by Austin Reaves at the end of the game.
The Lakers started the game with their 38th starting lineup of the year, which proved to be their strongest one yet. Los Angeles entered the first timeout of the game with an 18-8 lead and extended it to 27-10 before the bench filed in.
This is LAL's 38th starting lineup in an injury-plagued season with considerable roster turnover at the trade deadline, but it might be the best one, as well.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 30, 2023
Once the bench came in, momentum instantly shifted towards the Bulls, as they were able to take the lead at 8:13 left in the second quarter. After going punch for punch with the Bulls for most of the quarter, Darvin Ham’s starters led them on a 10-0 run to close the quarter, ending the half up 59-51. The Lakers were able to ride this momentum for the rest of the game, closing out the Bulls with an 11-point victory.
While this win was certainly a promising one, there are still areas to improve for the team, with six important games left in the season. Here are three that stand out to me:
The Lakers committed 16 turnovers in the game. While the Bulls were only able to score 19 points off them, this number has to go down for Los Angeles to compete with the top-tier teams of the league.
2. Bench Productivity:
The Lakers finished with only 14 bench points tonight, despite five players on their bench playing over 10 minutes. While all five bench players should never be on the court at the same time (more on that in the next point), this bench has to find rhythm playing together and, more importantly, not give up big runs to the opposition.
The main reason the bench was not productive tonight was that they were mostly on the court together. This is problematic as there are no clear on-ball scoring threats on our bench. While Schroder can be good at drawing contact, he is more of a playmaker and not able to carry an offense on his own. It is on Darvin Ham to better scatter the minutes of Russell, James, Reaves, and Davis throughout the game to avoid major offensive slumps.
Looking ahead, the Lakers have a critical game coming up in Minnesota on Friday. The LakeShow are now a 0.5-game back from the 7th spot in the Western Conference and 1.5 back of 6th. The Lakers will have a chance to jump the Timberwolves for the 7th spot in their game on Friday.
D’Angelo Russell entered tonight’s game a +81 in his 335 minutes as a Laker thus far, and he finished a +35 tonight in Chicago (average was +7.4 prior to Wednesday).— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 30, 2023
He’s shooting 47.1% from the field and 39.5% from 3 towards 18.6 points with 6.4 assists to 2.2 turnovers.