LOS ANGELES, CA – Out of two starters against the Chicago Bulls, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel had to make do with the lineup he had. But all of that anxiety goes away if you’re Vogel when you have LeBron James playing for you. With Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope not able to hit the floor because of injuries, Vogel and the Lakers were short-handed against a talented Bulls team.
But thanks to some tremendous free-throw shooting and the steady hand of James, the Lakers overcame an early 10-point deficit to squeak by the Bulls with a 117-115 win at STAPLES Center. After seeing their four-game winning streak snapped by the San Antonio Spurs the night before, the Lakers beat the Bulls by getting solid contributions across the board.
Vogel played 10 of his players on the team’s roster with nine of them breaking into the scoring column. James scored 28 points to lead the Lakers. Los Angeles had five players to score in double figures for the game. Without Davis and Caldwell-Pope playing, the Lakers had to contend with defending former UCLA star Zach LaVine, who went off for 38 points on 14 of 22 shooting from the field.
LaVine scored 19 of his 38 points in the first quarter alone as the Bulls raced to a 33-28 lead. LaVine did that by attempting and making one free throw in the period. For the quarter LaVine connected on all eight of his field-goal attempts. As hot as he was in the first quarter, LaVine went stone cold in the second period, scoring only two points off his only made field goal attempt as the Lakers outscored the Bulls, 31-25.
The Lakers took a 59-58 lead into halftime largely due to the play of guard Dennis Schroder in the second quarter. After doing absolutely nothing in the first quarter in which he scored zero points in just over 11 minutes of playing time, Schroder got his act together in the second period, scoring nine of his game total 17 points.
While all of this was going on, James played it chill in the first half going for just 12 points by halftime. That dynamic changed in the third quarter when James played more aggressively coming out of intermission. As the Lakers widened their slim lead by the end of the quarter to four, James scored 10 points in the period.
It’s expected for James to come out strong the way he did. But James also got some reinforcement in the form of the well-traveled Wesley Matthews. With Schroder going incognito in his 10 minutes of action in the period ( 1 point, 1 assist), Matthews stepped up, connecting on all four 3-point shots that he attempted for 12 big points as the Lakers outscored the Bulls, 33-30.
With the way that the two teams played through the first three quarters, it wasn’t a surprise that this contest would come down to the last possession. Behind another strong quarter by LaVine, the Bulls outscored the Lakers in the fourth quarter by two (27-25) to cut into Los Angeles’ narrow lead by the end of the game. At one point the Lakers had a 12-point advantage in the quarter.
That’s when things began to get wacky and the Bulls, behind LaVine (9 points) was game to try to hand the Lakers a second straight loss at home. The Bulls came close but get no cigar for the effort. Pushing back on the Bulls’ run in the fourth quarter was Schroder. Schroder led the Lakers in scoring in the final period with seven points.
And it was Schroder who iced the game at the end for the Lakers when he made one of his two free-throw attempts with 0.5 seconds left on the game clock.
Featured image: Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James goes through warmups in the team’s home opener against the Utah Jazz at STAPLES Center Oct. 25, 2019. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline
Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. A news and sports reporter, Dennis has written about social justice, civil rights, education, politics, and crime. He also covers the NFL, NBA, MLB as well as other sports. Based in Southern California, Dennis earned a journalism degree with a minor in criminal justice from Howard University. The real HU!!