It wasn’t pretty but the Los Angeles Lakers dug in and gutted out a 96-90 victory over the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers were incredibly sloppy to start the game and fell into an early deficit, but leaned on their defense from the second quarter on to turn around what looked like a sure loss.
The game started about as poorly as possible for the Lakers as they scored just 17 points in the first quarter while turning the ball over eight times. The turnovers would continue through the night as they set a new season-high in that department (23). That they not only overcame a maddening amount of careless possessions, but also a game where they made just two of their paltry eight three-point attempts, is stunning.
This was the first win of the season where the Lakers scored less than 100 points, possible because the Bulls shot just 35.2 percent overall from the field. The team was focused on disrupting Jimmy Butler, and overall it was a success. Butler went just 4-of-18 from the field while scoring a game-high 22 points, doing most of his his damage at the free-throw line (13-of-15). Brandon Ingram was integral in that effort.
Ingram played a career-high 41 minutes, chasing Butler and Dwyane Wade all night. Brandon’s biggest play of the night was a defensive stop on Butler with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 90. He chased Jimmy while he moved off-ball, stayed in front of him once he got the ball and challenged him at the rim without fouling. The rebound would go to Julius Randle, who tied his career-high in boarding with 20. Randle ended the night with a double-double, scoring 12 points to go with his monstrous rebounding effort against the best rebounding team in the NBA. Julius also would hit the go-ahead layup, going to his trademark Tasmanian spin to take Nikola Mirotic to the rack.
Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams each scored a team-high 18 points. while Nance had a double-double of his own with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Once again the bench was incredibly productive, while the Bulls reserves scored a combined 16 points.
Good teams find ways to win ugly games, and that’s exactly what the .500 Lakers did Wednesday night. They get a night off to recover from a bruising battle in Chicago before starting their next back-to-back in Toronto Friday. Good fight, goodnight.