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Five things to take away from Lakers' 98-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls


1. The Lakers proved their resilience.They for far too long coasted to double-digit victories, featuring beautiful team chemistry, plenty of rest for starters and a good time had by all. With exception to the Lakers' stretch against Minnesota, Denver and Phoenix, the team all season had demonstrated the maturity, hunger and strong learning curve to suggest they're championship material. Even though the Lakers have had the right attitude, it's become difficult discerning how good this team is simply because it's lacked tough competition.

That's why the Lakers' 98-91 victory Tuesday over the Chicago Bulls proved beneficial because it came against a playoff-caliber opponent, included challenges the Lakers had to overcome and showed the good habits they nurtured earlier has paid off.

2. Kobe Bryant literally orchestrated the offense. It wouldn't be surprising Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau would throw the kitchen sink at Bryant, considering his long-held familiarity goes way back to when he was a 76ers assistant and worked with Bryant when he played at Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia. The relationship continued in the 2008 and 2010 Finals where Thibodeau as an associate head coach for the Celtics devised defensive schemes to make Bryant work for his points and allow his production to inhibit the rest of the offense.

None of that happened this time around, despite meeting constant double teams in the post. When Bryant saw that, he immediately looked for open cutters driving through the lane and made hockey assists through efficient swing passes along the perimeter. When the Bulls played him up front, Bryant punished them, resulting in 20 points on eight of 18 shooting.


3. The Killer B's made key contributions. It's not surprising to know that Shannon Brown scored 21 points on seven of 14 shooting, including a five of 10 mark from the field. It's not surprising to know Matt Barnes remained relentless in cutting to the lane, grabbing rebounds and making hustle plays. And it's not surprising Steve Blake made timely passes and properly directed the offense. This is a role they've provided all season. But it's comforting for the Lakers to know that their main bench corps can help fill in the gaps when their starters are having bad nights, such as Ron Artest (one of eight), Derek Fisher (zero of six) and Pau Gasol (three of 10).

4. Pau Gasol struggled against Chicago. I've often noticed that Gasol's consistency remains so steady and predictable, it's often hard to remember what the Lakers would look like without it. Credit the Lakers for making adjustments to absorb Gasol's off night, finishing with 12 points on three of 10 shooting. But he really allowed Joakim Noah to rattle his focus. The first challenge involved getting the ball inside period. Gasol attempted only one shot in the first quarter, as the team appeared tentative in feeding him and he remained hesitant into trying to battle for position.

Even when he did receive touches, nothing seemed to go right. His shot looked flat. He had poor lift. And he had weak positioning. I wouldn't draw anything big from this, as Gasol's been remarkably consistent. But it seems that when Gasol has an off night, it's severely noticeable. Expect him to wash it out of his system Friday against Utah.

5. The Lakers could do very little to stop Derrick Rose. You can't really fault the Lakers, considering Rose's quickness proves hard to stop regardless of what defenses do to him. Rose scored 30 points on 11 of 25 shooting by driving through the lane and exploiting the Lakers' poor help defense. He drove to the rack and found open outside shots off screen and rolls. And his lightning speed indirectly led to Fisher and Artest having poor offensive nights, as they exerted nearly all their energy on trying to defend him.

What made it more challenging is that Rose didn't feel like he had to make his shots. The Bulls outrebounded the Lakers, 46-38, and converted on 26 second-chance points, a factor that would've doomed the Lakers had they not adjusted in the fourth quarter and held Chicago to 31.3% shooting and Rose to a zero of four clip.

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Kobe Bryant tries to find a way around a double team by Chicago's Joakim Noah and Luol Deng during the Lakers' victory Tuesday night. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Photo: Shannon Brown takes to the air looking for two of his 21 points off the bench against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at Staples Center. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

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It is a very good win considering that three starters were off. The game shows that the Lakers need a big man to clog the middle. I hope they can get it before they face Utah.

Good win by the Lakers.Ricky my man what can you say now your idol has been neutralized by Noah hahahahaha.The Killer b's strikes again wow.

Now, I have been told that I know nothing about basketball, but last night showed how a player will adapt to the ref's calls, or in this case: non-calls. In the first half it looked to me like Noah was over Pau's back so much that Pau should have been wearing a saddle. Since the refs weren't calling it, he was able to play exceptional defense. Pau on the other hand, just couldn't get over the fact that the calls weren't going his way. It was kind of like his "perfect game" made him forget how to adjust from night-to-night. I think maybe the mental toughness is still just a bit lacking, but that's easy to say when I am watching from my comfy chair munching on a box of Hot Tamales.


Depth is the key to Lakers' strong early start. Three starters - Pau, Ron and Fish - had off nights. But Kobe, Shannon and Lamar all stepped up. And Blake and Barnes hit timely 3's.

Your guys are going to have off nights. You will run into teams like Chicago - pretty talented and playing very hard (Noah goes non-stop). And the Bulls focused on slowing Kobe down. In the last couple of years this game would probably have been a loss for the Lakers. But Kobe made great decisions, scoring against single coverage and dishing when doubled. Lamar and Shannon came through offensively. And the Lakers improved defensively in the second half. The key was holding Chicago to 18 points in the fourth, slowing down Rose and taking control of the defensive glass.

This is just a better Laker team. Lamar is better. Shannon is better. Barnes and Blake are upgrades. Looking forward to an even better test with Utah Friday.

Mannnn9 where u at.. u need a boost . ur -7. step it up. try usin this the boss showed me it. it will help u get ur info faster. it may help. alright. the lead is +12 by the way..



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