The Los Angeles Lakers (13-2) are on the end of a brief two game home stand, currently on a four game win streak, welcome a red hot Chicago Bulls (7-5) team, a squad on their own streak winning five of their last six. The Lakers look for their seventh consecutive win versus the bulls, as both teams currently lead their divisions.
Kobe opened the game with a 20-foot jumper over Keith Bogans, the very next trip he tested Bogans with an array of pump fakes, ultimately getting to the line. He’s shooting a blistering 96% over the past 6 games and looks to get there as much as possible. Bryant put offensive pressure on Bogans early, mostly by attacking the rim, asserting himself into the triangle, and finding open looks.
Bryant went on a tear in the first quarter scoring nine of the first eleven, as he had his way with Chicago guards. Kobe continued to get great low post position by backing Corey Brewer into the low box and either shooting his clutch fade away or spinning then dishing to a diving Odom.
He assisted to Shannon Brown often, as he did a great job of floating around the three-point line and waited for Kobe to drive and penetrate or attract the double. Bryant is great at taking advantage of certain scenarios, understanding when to make the extra pass and when its “Kobe time”. This is evident as the Lakers lead the NBA in scoring and rank 2nd in assists. They move the ball well, are very team oriented, and each player understands their role.
Bryant is currently second in the league behind Kevin Durant in scoring at 25.6 ppg and had to work to get his shot of a few times, as the length and size of the Bulls front line was commanding. The Lakers were outscored 42-36 in the paint, both teams shot under 40% for the game, and the turnovers were high each way as the pace was frenetic.
The key to winning this game was three point shooting and bench scoring; the Lakers converted 10 threes compared to the Bulls 4, and were outscored 34-10 bench to bench.
Kobe finished with 20 points and 5 assists, Odom 21 and 8, along with great bench production (Brown 21, hitting 5 threes, and Barnes chipping in with 10). This was a tough game for Gasol offensively, although he collected another double double (12 points, 11 rebounds, 5 blocks). It was the athletic energized front line of Noah and Gibson who used their length to bother his shot attempts. The activity level of the Bulls was high, but at the end their youth prevailed as the Lakers went on a 16-2 run late to ice the game.
The Lakers travel to Utah on Friday where they will play a tough Jazz (12-5) team. Derron Williams has been on an absolute tear, so this should be a tough contest, as Utah is one of the hardest places to win in the league.