Last night they took an L, but tonight they bounced back.
Lonzo Ball had 19 points and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a two-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Bulls, 107-100, on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Less than 48 hours after their worst loss of the season to the lowly Cavaliers, the new-look Lakers shuffled around their starting lineup with two compelling changes.
Seventeen-year veteran, Tyson Chandler, was inserted into the starting lineup at center, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made the start at shooting guard in place of Josh Hart.
"I thought KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] did a great job on [Zach] LaVine and Tyson Chandler set the tone with it," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "I loved our defense and intensity to start, I'll tell you that. I thought it carried throughout the game."
The moves undoubtedly worked, as the Lakers started strong for the first time in three games. After trailing by double-digits in the first quarter of consecutive games, Chandler and KCP helped the Lake Show build a 19-18 first quarter lead, and they never trailed by more than a basket.
"I've seen it off the bench the last couple games we haven't started with great energy," said Caldwell-Pope about the lack of energy the Lakers have had to start games. "He [Luke Walton] wanted to start the game fast and get some energy in there. He wanted to switch it up to see what would happen."
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Despite shooting just 46 percent from the field, the Lakers cruised to victory over the hapless Bulls, who shot even worse at a 40 percent clip.
Ball had a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds. Kyle Kuzma collected 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Brandon Ingram chipped in 16 points with nine rebounds.
"It was a must-win today and I had to pick it up wherever I could," Ball said about focusing more on the offensive end in the win. "Tonight we were missing shots early, but we stuck together. I tried to bring my energy and usually it feeds off on the team."
Against the team he began his career with, Chandler finished with eight points and three rebounds. Caldwell-Pope scored 17 in a starting role.
"Just to be back in the starting lineup felt good," said Caldwell-Pope. "We got out to a great start, had great energy, and we just carried it over throughout the entire game."
Chicago controls the worst offense in the NBA with a season average of just over 100 points per game. By comparison, the Lakers are 15th in the league with 111.4 PPG, and the league average is 112 PPG.
Nonetheless, both offenses struggled on Tuesday. Zach Lavine was just 4-for-11 for 10 points. Chandler Hutchinson chipped in 12 points, Lauri Markkanen had 17 points, and Jabari Parker had 18 points in the loss.
"I thought Jabari played well," said Bulls head coach Jim Boylen. "I thought his pace was good, his energy was good, bue he's practiced well and he's been engaged."
The reeling Bulls have lost eight consecutive games, and the Lakers have won four straight over the Chicago dating back to November of 2016.
"It's tough of course, mentally," said Markkanen of the Bulls recent slump. "We just try and get ready to play the next game and that's just what we have to do. Of course it's a lot more fun when you're winning, but nobody is feeling sorry for us. We just have to fix it."
We Want Tacos
The highlight of the game came late in the fourth quarter as the soldout Staples Center arena was on the edge of their seat to discover if the Lakers defense would help them earn a pair of Jack in the Box tacos.
As part of a season-long promotion, if the Lakers hold an opponent under 100 points and earn the victory, everyone in attendance will get a coupon for two free Jack in the Box tacos.
The Lakers led 98-85 with two minutes left in the game, but the Bulls went on 13-9 run to make it 107-98 with just seconds remaining.
Unfortunately for the fans, Ivica Zubac fouled Shaq Harrison on a three-point shot with one-second remaining in the game, and Harrison sank two-of-three free throws as the boos rang down upon him. No Tacos for you!
Notes and Next
LeBron James (left groin) missed his 11th consecutive game. Rajon Rondo (right finger) also missed the contest. Denzel Valentine (left ankle) and Bobby Portis (right elbow) were out for Chicago. James was shooting in practice on Tuesday morning for the first time since he suffered the groin injury on Christmas Day.
The Lakers hope to get LeBron James back as they head out on a two-game road trip to Oklahoma City and Houston before returning home next Monday in a rematch with the Warriors.