Lakers-Bulls: How the final plays failed
You can fault the Lakers' learning curve concerning Mike Brown's new system, wonder how Pau Gasol and Josh McRoberts can miss a combined four free throws, or lament the drop in the team's talent level.
Regardless, the Lakers wouldn't have suffered an 88-87 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day had they not executed miserably in their last two possessions. Here's how it went down.
Play: Kobe Bryant's failed pass to Gasol
What happened: Once he received an inbounds pass from Metta World Peace, Bryant met a double-team at midcourt from Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
Instead of holding on to the ball and possibly drawing a foul, Bryant looked to pass. Steve Blake was covered at the timeline. World Peace stood idle on the corner with little separation from Luol Deng. Derek Fisher appeared open at the top of the key, while Gasol appeared open near the left block. As soon as Bryant passed the ball, however, Deng fronted Gasol and stole the ball. The Lakers led 87-86 with 17.6 seconds remaining.
What happened: The Bulls didn't call timeout after Deng's forced turnover. It appeared Deng actually traveled on the other end of the court, but Noah received his pass on his way down. The Bulls then cleared out for Rose to run an isolation set on the near side. After Fisher marked Rose, the Chicago point guard performed a series of crossovers to throw him off balance. But Fisher was hardly the lone guilty party.
World Peace defended at the free-throw line between Rose at the near-end and Taj Gibson at the top of the key. As soon as Gibson cleared out, World Peace turned his back on Rose and pointed out Gibson's penetration to Bryant and Steve Blake on the far side. Then, Rose drove past Fisher and an inattentive World Peace and delivered a right hook. Gasol stepped in to help but was too late. The Bulls led 88-87 with 4.8 seconds left.
Play: Bryant's blocked shot
What happened: WIth World Peace delivering the inbounds pass, Blake cut toward the far end of the perimeter, Fisher flashed toward the paint and Bryant cut up toward the top of the key. The Lakers cleared out while Bryant ran an isolation play. Blake and Fisher remained open on the far and near ends of the perimeter, while Deng, Gibson and Noah all flooded the paint to contest Bryant's shot. Deng blocked the shot from behind as time expired.
-- Mark Medina
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org