Lakers Rested and Ready to Face ‘Gritty' Bulls Team

After sitting around nursing some minor injuries for a few days since their Friday night loss to the Pistons, the Lakers seem ready to take on the Chicago Bulls. Vladimir Radmanovic seemed to have the most serious of the ailments, sitting out practice after falling and injuring his thigh. Derek Fisher has had sore ribs (which were said to be due to fighting through a lot of tough screens), and Sasha Vujacic tweaked the ankle that kept him out of most of the preseason. All three should be able to go tonight though against the Bulls.

As for any hangover from the Pistons' loss, it's highly unlikely. Kobe said the Bulls are "gritty," but also (and predictably) that the Lakers are up to the challenge.

"That's what makes the season exciting," Bryant said. "You have these runs where it looks like you're just unbeatable, you might go 82-0 or win 70 games. Then you lose one, it's like '[They're] fighting for an eighth seed.' But for us, it's a nice and steady pace."

As for the Bulls, they're at .500 right now, with recent wins over Dallas and Indiana. Rookie Derek Rose has been as good as advertised, averaging almost 19 points, five rebounds, and over five assists per game. Not only is Rose in the lofty company of LeBron James, who was the last rookie to put up those types of numbers, but he's also in the same statistical air as the most famous Bull of all time. Rose is the first Bulls' rookie to score in double figures in his first 10 games since the great Michael Jordan did it back in the '84-'85 season.

After tonight, the Lakers will head to Phoenix for a showdown with Shaquille O'Neal and the Suns on Thursday. Hopefully they'll focus on the task at hand and not look past tonight's "gritty" opponent.

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