Winners of 11 of their last 15, the Bulls escaped with a last second victory against the hapless Lakers on Martin Luther King Jr Day. After a sparkling first quarter which saw the Bulls hover around 60% from the field, the Lakers ran them down in the second, taking a three point lead into the break. The game never got much farther apart than that down the stretch, before Nick Young sank three free throws to send the game to overtime. Young, who led the Lakers with 31 points (on 11-23 shots), the first Laker this season to eclipse the 30 point mark, hit a 17 footer on the baseline to tie the game at 100 with 4 seconds left in the overtime period before the Bulls ran Taj Gibson off a curl, where he caught the inbounds pass and scored as time expired. Taj finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds on 3-11 shooting.
On the offensive side, the Bulls, as is their custom, routinely struggled to get good shots. Joakim Noah was his now usual brilliant self, finishing with 17 points, a season high 21 rebounds (7 of which were offensive), 6 assists, 2 steals and a block on 6-16 shooting. Jimmy Butler was active despite another dreadful shooting night, with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and a block of his own on 6-19 shooting while playing nearly 50 minutes (which, of course, would be his second highest minutes total on the season). D.J. Augustin (10-16, 27 points) was electric after replacing Kirk Hinrich (2-4, 4 points), who exited the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. Mike Dunleavy added 12, Carlos Boozer 11, and Tony Snell 6 for the Bulls, who move to 20-20 and into a virtual tie for 4th place in the East with Toronto and Washington (both of whom have beaten the Bulls twice this season).
On the Lakers side of things, Pau Gasol was resplendent, matching Noah step for step and finishing with 20 points, 19 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 steals on 8-15 shooting. Jodie Meeks had 16 points, new starter Ryan Kelly had 13 while badly outplaying Boozer at times, and Jordan Hill had 7 to round out the notable scorers for the Lakers, who failed (?) in their chance to tie New Orleans for 11th in the West. The Bulls next play this Wednesday against Luol Deng and the Cavaliers.
Player(s) of the Game: Joakim Noah and D.J. Augustin.
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