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Lakers vs. Bulls Preview: Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol say goodbye

The Lakers set out on a three-game road trip that opens up against Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers hit the road for three games, opening up the trio with a visit to the Chicago Bulls. This will be the final time Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol share a (professional, at least) basketball court together, and the last stop in Chi Town for the closest thing to Michael Jordan to emerge since the six-time NBA champion hung it up for good. There's history wrapping up at the United Center tonight, no doubt.

Kobe is considered probable, though, after dislocating the middle finger of his shooting hand against the San Antonio Spurs. Lakers head trainer Gary Vitti snapped it back into place during the game, and X-rays came back negative later that night. Bryant wants to push to play as many of the final 26 games in his career as he can, and with one final stretch of regular season in front of him, it's hard to imagine him taking too many nights off.

Jordan Clarkson was on fire from deep in his first game back from Toronto, showing the kind of three-point marksmanship that can make him an integral piece of the franchise's future. Change may not have come for the Lakers at the trade deadline, but the draft and free agency in the not-so-distant future can still shake things up. It's important for the young players to show their capabilities, and the front office to scout it all out before they're faced with more big decisions in what's just a few months away from being a full-blown rebuild project.

56 games have come and gone in the blink of an eye, even with the win column collecting more dust than numerals. Every road contest is a farewell to Kobe from here on out, so enjoy the ride while the two amigos who brought titles back to Los Angeles enjoy one last game together.

Time: 5 p.m. PT


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