Game Recap: Bulls 95, Lakers 83

The Bad:
The Bulls shot only 41.9 percent — including 39.5 percent on two-pointers — and got outrebounded 50-40. They managed only two free throws before halftime and a paltry 12 for the game.

The Good:
Despite their poor overall shooting, the Bulls went 9-for-17 from three-point range (52.9 percent) and scored at a rate of 108.4 points per 100 possessions (according to Basketball-Reference). They also committed only 8 turnovers for 7 points going the other way.

The Better:
Chicago’s D completely stymied L.A.’s superstar-laden offense. Jimmy Butler made Kobe Bryant’s life a living hell, limiting the Mamba to 7-for-22 from the field and 0-for-6 from downtown. Dwight Howard finished with 8 points on only five shot attempts and Pau Gasol was only 6-for-14.

Overall, the Lakers were 32-for-81 from the field (39.5 percent) and 3-for-17 from beyond the arc (17.6 percent). The Bulls blocked 11 shots, forced 16 turnovers, and held L.A. to 94.7 points per 100 possessions.

Player of the Game:
This is a tie between Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler.

Chicago’s starters were 28-for-64 (43.8 percent). Minus Hinrich, they were 19-for-53 (35.8 percent). Hinrich exploded out of a season’s worth of offensive lethargy by going a sizzling 9-for-11 from the field (including 3-for-4 on threes). Captain Kirk also had 8 assists, 7 rebounds and a steal.

Hinrich drilled back-to-back threes in the first quarter as the Bulls were establishing themselves and he also played great in the final six minutes of the fourth:

5:52: Hit a 21-footer to put the Bulls up 79-75
5:05: Rebounds a missed shot by Gasol
4:54: Drains a 13-footer to put the Bulls up 81-75
4:37: Rebounds a missed shot by Kobe
4:11: Assists on a Butler jumper to put the Bulls up 83-75
2:11: Rebounds a missed shot by Kobe
1:55: Nails a 19-footer to put the Bulls up 91-79
1:31: Assists on a Boozer jumper to put the Bulls up 93-79

Hinrich played about as well as he could possibly play. It was his best game of the season.

Butler was nearly as good. His raw stats aren’t jaw-dropping — 10 points on 4-for-10 shooting with 8 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal — but the way he stood his ground against Bryant was awesome. So awesome Nate Robinson was chanting “Kobe stopper! Kobe stopper!” in the locker room after the game.

Said Buter:”It was all about getting into his space. But it wasn’t just me defending him, it was four other guys out there. If I was beat, Joakim [Noah] or [Carlos Boozer], somebody was always there. So we defended him as a team, I should say.”

Added Joakim Noah: “Jimmy Boy was huge. Defensively it’s great for him. He’s making a name for himself. He’s proving that not only is he a great defensive player, but he’s showing his athleticism. He’s showing that he hit a huge shot at the end there, a big jump shot, it makes us that much tougher to know that we have guys like that that we can rely on.”

Predictably, Kobe — who has spent a career listening to “Kobe Stopper” theories — gave most of the credit to Chicago’s defensive schemes: “Thibs does a great job. Every time he faces me he does a great job. Most of the looks I had tonight were tough shots. Some of the credit goes to the young fellow, Butler did a good job defensively. A lot of that is on me and us, having to try to manufacture something 30 feet from the hoop with a low shot clock is tough.”

The message, as always, is that only Kobe really stops Kobe. Just ask Kobe.

The Blazing Belinelli:
Rip Hamilton got off to a good start that devolved into something else. Hamilton somehow squeezed off 18 shots in 25 minutes but managed only 13 points.

Belinelli, on the other hand, was the model of efficiency: 5-for-8 from the field, 3-for-3 on threes and 2-for-2 from the line. Marco scored 8 of his points — on two foul shots and back-to-back triples — during the 18-4 run the Bulls used to shut the Lakers down.

Back from the Bench:
Much ado was made about Noah’s benching in Saturday’s loss to the Grizzlies…but in the end it was much ado about nothing.

Said Noah: “That was all me. I admit it. It was my fault. I shouldn’t have said the things I said.”

See the video for Joakim’s full comments:

Credit Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau for having the guts to sit a player down — even a player as valuable as Noah — when said players needs to be sat. But also credit Noah for taking his medicine and acknowledging that he, not the coach, was the problem.

Jo then responded with a typical Jo game. He had only 6 points on 2-for-8 shooting, but he ripped down a game-best 13 rebounds while blocking a season-best 6 shots. He also 3 assists and 2 steals.

My favorite of those blocks:

One Up and One Down:
Nate Robinson had a nice impact off the bench: 15 minutes, 11 points, 4-for-7 from the field, 3-for-4 on threes, 3 steals, 2 assists and his typical 3 wacky turnovers.

Meanwhile, Taj Gibson was the Invisible Man: 13 minutes, 4 points, 2-for-8, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 blocked shot.

Key Stat:
Other than Pau Gasol (15 points), the Lakers managed only 2 points from their reserves.

Speaking of Gasol…

Odd Coaching Decision:
Earl Clark logged more minutes at PF for the Lakers (35) than Gasol (26). During his abbreviated court time, Gasol attempted four shots at the rim and seven shots from 16-23 feet. He got very few post up attempts. So…you know…thank you, Mike D’Antoni.

Between that and Howard’s five shot attempts, Kobe was not pleased.

Said Bryant: “We’re going to have to look at some things. We’re going to have to change something. Probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more. That’s just my intuition, but that’s my gut right now. I have to take a look at the film again, but we’re definitely going to have to change something.”

Quote of the Night:
Kobe Bryant — whose team is 17-24 and has dropped six straight on the road — said: “Very, very tough, very, very frustrating, trying to keep my cool. It is embarrassing. It is not even embarrassing. I am a big history guy. Playing here in this arena with these incredible fans, you’re in the house of MJ, Pippen, PJ (Phil Jackson) built, to put this kind of brand of basketball on the floor is just not acceptable.”

Final Thoughts:
A win over the Lakers used to feel pretty good. This one was a nice win…and that’s about it. These Lakers are a dysfunctional, out-of-sync mess. You can just tell their top players aren’t comfortable with each other or D’Antoni’s system. The Bulls may have less talent, but they were clearly the better team. Even without Luol Deng.

Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-by-Play, Shot Chart.

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One Response to Game Recap: Bulls 95, Lakers 83

    DarkJosh January 25, 2013 at 2:53 am #

    bulls played really well, hatts off to Hinrich!. While Lakers are already beginning to show hard proof that they really are as bad as their record says LOL

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