A loss with a little fire: Lakers 96, Bulls 87

Not so fast, young fella...

"Not so fast, young fella..."

For three quarters, the Bulls played their most inspired basketball of the season. They hustled. They scrapped. They crashed the boards with a manic vengeance. And, most improbably, they held a 73-72 lead over the defending champions going into the fourth quarter.

It was last spring all over again, only this time the Bulls were facing the Lakers instead of the Celtics, and the game represented only one of 82 regular season contests rather than a heated playoff showdown.

But it sure felt as important as a playoff game, didn’t it?

The Bulls have been going through hell lately. It hasn’t just been the losing — now 10 of the last 12 games — it has been the manner in which the losing has occurred: blowout losses to good teams, blowout losses to bad teams, home losses to terrible teams.

Simply put: embarrassing.

But for tonight, the Bulls overlooked their limitations — which, frankly, are many — and flat out competed. That hasn’t happened a lot lately.

Mind you, Chicago has a serious weakness inside, and L.A. has the most imposing frontcourt in the league (Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest). But the suddenly rock ’em, sock ’em Bulls outrebounded the Lakers 51-37 and even outscored them in the paint 38-34.

I’m not sure where that came from, but I liked it.

Unfortunately, other problems remained the same. Such as shooting (38.5 percent as a team) and an utter lack of three-point marksmanship (2-for-11 on the night). And the Bulls offense — such as it is — got blanked to start the fourth, putting up only four points in the first six and a half minutes. That scoring drought allowed the Lakers to pull ahead for good. Chicago ended up going 6-for-27 (22 percent) from the field in the final quarter.

Actually, the Bulls might still have won this game if not for the heroics of Kobe Bryant. Despite a broken finger and persistent defense from various Chicago defenders, Bryant went 15-for-26 from the field and 11-for-15 from the foul line on his way to scoring a season-high 42 points.

All the Bulls could do was watch…and listen to their own crowd cheer and chant “MVP!” for the man who was beating them almost singlehandedly.

Said Kirk Hinrich: “I played him tough. He was just making shots. There wasn’t many times I thought I could’ve done something different. There was handful of times I felt like ‘Damn should have done this or that,’ but for the most part he made shots.”

That’s what superstars do, although it has become increasingly easy to forget that in the Windy City. Michael Jordan has been gone for more than a decade, and the closest thing the Bulls had to a clutch scorer is now playing in Detroit.

Maybe Derrick Rose can be that guy some day. Maybe the encouragement Kobe gave him will help. We don’t know yet. Rose had an above-average game (21 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists) despite straining a left rib during the first quarter.  But he accounted for only 2 points and an assist in the final 12 minutes, when his team needed him most. Of course, he was injured. But still.

In the final analysis, the Bulls fought, and they came one superstar performance away from upending a superior team. And that’s something. Joakim Noah — who got his hands on a mind-boggling 14 offensive rebounds — said: “When you’re getting blown out by 30 points, how can you say we’re improving? But I think tonight, we can look at ourselves and say we gave it everything we had and put ourselves in a situation to win the game and we just missed some open shots and some layups. I think if we bring that energy we should be happy with ourselves.”

True. Of course, I can’t help but wonder what might have been — specifically in losses against the Bucks, Heat, Nets and Raptors — if the Bulls could only play with that kind of passion and intensity every night.

I hope we get to find out.

Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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25 Responses to A loss with a little fire: Lakers 96, Bulls 87

  1. Luis Rivera December 16, 2009 at 1:58 pm #

    Fire VDN, get Byron Scott! I just fixed the problem.

  2. usmcroc22@msn.com'
    rocky December 16, 2009 at 4:50 pm #

    Rumor Alert: Bulls are interested in trading for Monta Ellis and Anthony Randolph in a trade that would send G’state Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Hinrich, and our first round pick.

    Starting Lineup:
    C-Joakim Noah
    PF-Anthony Randolph
    SF-Luol Deng
    SG-Monta Ellis
    PG-Derrick Rose

  3. bahrani@uchicago.edu'
    Mahmoud December 16, 2009 at 5:10 pm #

    Why would Golden State do that other than Monta Ellis hating Don Nelson? I guess Ty works really well in their system, but Kirk doesn’t fit as well, and isn’t everyone really up on Anthony Randolph over there? Just seems weird is all, I would love for it to happen, but it looks unlikely.

  4. hiphopresurrected@gmail.com'
    DocBoone December 16, 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    How often does the Bulls play Hinrich and Rose together with Rose moving to the 2 spot? I don’t get to see many of the games since I don’t live in Chicago, but I’d be interested in seeing Rose take over at the 2 some during a game.

  5. tc643@hotmail.com'
    Tony C. December 16, 2009 at 7:27 pm #

    That would be a very good trade for the Bulls; I’m skeptical that it will happen.

  6. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    andres Lopez December 16, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    Omg dude! I hope that deal does happen soon. That would be the best solution to fix all the Bulls problems on the offensive end on the floor but, they should also try to deal Jerome James then giving up their 1st round draft pick. Plus, I am not sure if that deal would work because the numbers do add up right. The bulls will be giving Gold State around $14,000,000 dollars for Tyrus Thomas, Kirk Hinrich and their 1st round draft pick, while Golden State will be giving the Bulls around $13,000,000 dollars for both Monta Ellis and Anthony Randolph.

  7. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    andres Lopez December 16, 2009 at 9:14 pm #

    the number don’t add up right*

  8. felipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    felipe garcia December 16, 2009 at 9:33 pm #

    Or the Bulls should try trading: Tyrus Thomas, Jerome James and their 2nd round draft pick for David West and Julian Wright. The number are very close and both teams will be getting what they want. The Bulls will be getting David West that can score inside and New Orleans will be getting Tyrus Thomas that can do lay hoop for CP3 just like he did before with Tyson Chandler. Plus the good thing about this deal is that: David West, Tyrus Thomas & Jerome James will become a free agent for next year, if things does work out for both teams.

  9. felipeagarcia87@hotmail.com'
    felipe garcia December 16, 2009 at 9:36 pm #

    Giving the bulls a lot of money for next year to sign 2 Star players like: Chris Bosh, David Lee, Joe Johnson or D. Wade!

  10. rossana-AHA@hotmail.c?om'
    mike killer December 16, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    Yah, they should also fire VDN and hirer Byron Scott! since he is in the market, just like my smart friend said (Luis Rivera) then that would fix all the problems they have and the bulls will eventually start turning those lost columns into wins columns. Plus he will help turn D. Rose into an All-Star player like CP3.

  11. wannafanta365@aim.com'
    Wanna Fanta December 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm #

    I don’t know if we should fire VDN just yet. I mean, he’s not a good coach, but he’s definitely not the only reason the Bulls are doing badly (take a look at the Celtics, Doc Rivers is a terrible coach, so he obviously doesn’t affect the team to much).

    I think the Bulls just need to show some energy to attract some nice fancy free agents in 2010. Chris Bosh actually wants to come to Chicago, and I think that if Wade leaves the Heat, the Bulls are up there as one of the top teams he’ll want to go to. I don’t want to sound greedy, but wouldn’t it be awesome if we got Bosh AND Wade? How’s this sound for loaded:

    PG: Derrick Rose / Kirk Hinrich
    SG: Dwyane Wade / John Salmons
    SF: Luol Deng / Taj Gibson
    PF: Chris Bosh / Brad Miller
    C: Joakim Noah / Aaron Gray

    I’d say that team could whip some major arse, if I do say so myself. If only it could become a reality…
    AND that little fancy team has a very very decent bench! AND that won’t hurt team chemistry a bit (team chemistry is something I love about the Bulls, possibly their best quality, and I hope they can keep it forever). Oh, and if Wade and Bosh come to Chicago, that’ll also mean more income for the Bulls in that many Heat fans will follow Wade, and some Raptor fans will follow Bosh…

    Oh well, I’ll just hope for the best…


  12. usmcroc22@msn.com'
    rocky December 17, 2009 at 12:21 am #

    Kurt Hinrich+Tyrus Thomas+James Johnson for Monta Ellis+Anthony Randolph


  13. usmcroc22@msn.com'
    rocky December 17, 2009 at 12:22 am #

    More income for the bulls yeah right. The bulls are tops in the league with home attendance.

  14. bahrani@uchicago.edu'
    Mahmoud December 17, 2009 at 12:46 am #

    Yeah, that’s not gonna happen haha. We barely have the money for one max star.

  15. usmcroc22@msn.com'
    rocky December 17, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    I think the trade for Ellis and Randolph can be had. Gar Forman needs to get on the phone and start negotiating.

  16. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    andres Lopez December 17, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    I also would like this deal to happen rocky but, sadly for some reason I think it is not going to happen because like I said before, the money doesn’t add up right and the bull will be giving Golden State a lot more money then them & I think Golden State would not want any part of this deal. I do see the deal happening that garcia mention already: david West for tyrus Thomas and J. James or for Al Harrington

  17. pcheun@yahoo.com'
    Peter December 17, 2009 at 7:06 pm #

    I’m a Kobe hater so take this with a grain of salt. But I read in so many game summaries of Laker road games on so many media outlets that the opposing crowd chanted “MVP!” for Kobe. It often makes it sound like a hostile road crowd is somehow won over by Kobe’s heroics and is left with no choice but to endorse his place as MVP of the league. I guess I can’t speak for other arenas, but I was at the United Center on Tuesday night, and it wasn’t demoralized Bulls fans cheering for Kobe, but it was really the legion of Laker fans who proudly wear their purple and gold in arenas all over the country, screaming MVP for Kobe. There are just so many Laker fans all over the country and it seems they, more than any other group of fans, feel the overwhelming need to vocalize their love for that jerk. Man, are they obnoxious. That said, yes yes, Kobe is one of the best players in the league.

  18. usmcroc22@msn.com'
    rocky December 17, 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    I’d rather keep Tyrus than get David West or Harrington

  19. wannafanta365@aim.com'
    Wanna Fanta December 18, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    @ rocky – Harrington may be a good temporary solution because he can hit threes and open the court up for some close-to-the-rim players like Rose, but he seems like he’ll upset the team chemistry, which I don’t want to happen. I’d rather wait.

  20. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    andres Lopez December 21, 2009 at 4:31 am #

    Look rocky, I got nothing against you but, we both know when it is all said and done. Golden State will not be willing to do this deal because Ellis and Randolph are playing way better right now then Hinrich and Thomas on offense and defense. Plus they are younger and if you look at their salaries; Hinrich and Thomas are wroth more money then Ellis and Randolph. (do the math!) It is a good idea but, it is not going to happen. At least with Al or David West they have another scorer that can hit big baskets and take out pressure from Derrick Rose. Remember this is just a temporary solution to help the Bulls make a playoff run again. Also both Al and David West are going to become Free-agents for next year, so this deal wont hurt them in the long run if it does not work out. Unlike Ellis and Randolph in the future

  21. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    andres Lopez December 21, 2009 at 4:43 am #

    specially Ellis big contact

  22. mrgarcia87@yahoo.com'
    andres Lopez December 21, 2009 at 4:50 am #

    especially Monta Ellis big contract*

  23. indiana_gonyea@gmx.net'
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