It was the worst of halves, and then, it was the best of halves.
On Tuesday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 19-point deficit and overcame one of the ugliest halves of basketball in recent memory. The Chicago Bulls enjoyed a 56-42 lead at the intermission after the Lakers had committed 13 turnovers in the first two quarters and trailed by 18 points a their lowest point of the first 24 minutes.
LA would commit only one turnover over the final 24 minutes and outscore the Chicago Bulls 61-38 to win by a final count of 103-94.
Everyone in attendance won tacos at the end of the night, and that ugly, putrid first half faded into memory for the smiling Staples Center crowd as it exited to "I Love LA" and streamers falling from the rafters.
From the Lakers' standpoint, the less said about the first half, the better.
"I thought we were pretty bad in that first half," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the game.
Walton added, "I was shocked we were only down 14 points at the half, to be honest. I said, 'We are lucky to be down 14 right now the way we played and the good news is we have plenty of time to come back.'"
The Lakers turned the game around in the third quarter but only after the team came out of the locker room flat, dug the ditch deeper to 19 points and Walton called a timeout only 96 seconds into the second half.
Following the timeout, the Lakers went on to a 30-14 run and entered the fourth quarter miraculously only trailing by three points. The atmosphere inside the arena had changed, the ball game had changed, and the momentum appeared to be entirely on the Lakers' side.
Julius Randle, in particular, had energized the crowd and brought electricity to the court, as the backup forward scored his first eight points of the game in the third quarter. Randle would finish with 10 points and 10 rebounds to claim a double-double on the night, but the bulk of the 22-year-old's contribution arrived in the second half and in that vital momentum-shifting third quarter. In the second half, Randle's net rating was plus-22 points.
In the fourth quarter, the Bulls initially jumped out to a five-point lead, but the Lakers came back to level the game at 80-80 on a Josh Hart layup set up by Randle. Hart, who is a rookie, also played valuable minutes in the third and fourth quarters and earned due praise from his teammates and coach after the game.
The Bulls, however, went on to score the next seven points, as Walton struggled to make substitutions with only one timeout in the coach's pocket. After Walton made his changes on a dead ball foul, the Lakers immediately went on a 9-2 run and tied the game at 89-89.
From that point forward, the Lakers never looked back.
They went on to win the fourth quarter by a final count of 31-19, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 11 points in the final period to lead the team down the stretch. At one point, Caldwell-Pope scored eight straight points for the Lakers. The Lakers' shooting guard finished with 21 points on the night.
Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball struggled to find his shot in the first half but hit two of his four three-point attempts in the second half. The Lakers' point guard finished with eight points, four assists and 13 rebounds in the victory and was one of the players substituted in when the Lakers made their final push to level the game and ride away to victory.
Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma scored 22 points on the night to lead all scorers, but Kuzma scored 18 of those 22 points in the first half and deserved credit for keeping the Lakers close enought to even attempt a second half comeback. Lukily for the the Flint, Michigan native, his teammates came to life in the second half.
For the Bulls, Denzel Valentine scored 17 points to lead six Bulls scoring in double figures, but Chicago struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm following the halftime break. The Bulls shot 28.9 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from three-point land in the second half after shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 50 percent form beyond the arc in the first half.
For both teams, Tuesday night at Staples Center truly was a tale of two halves.
"It is a learning opportunity for the guys to be down 20 and realize you don't need hero shots," Walton put the comeback in context for the young team. "You just need to tighten down on what we are doing, and you can get back in the game."
With the victory, the Lakers improved to 8-10 on the season and are eighth in the Western Conference. Next, the Lakers travel to Sacramento to face the Kings on Wednesday night before enjoying a Thanksgiving lay-off until Monday, Nov. 27 when the team hits the "road" against the LA Clippers.