After taking care of business in both Dallas and San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers appeared to figure that was good enough and sleepwalked through three quarters against the Chicago Bulls. But then, all of a sudden, the team woke up, their bench mounted a furious comeback in the fourth, and wound up somehow running away with a 118-112 victory, their sixth win in a row.
Easily the top story to come away from this game with was Kyle Kuzma’s play late. The Lakers’ perceived third guy, (even though it should be Danny Green) looked well on his way to his third consecutive poor game as he tries to work his way back from injury. He said earlier in the day that he was treating these like preseason games and it’s shown. Kuzma looked tentative for most the game and even when he tried to attack, he still didn’t have the quickness to get by anyone.
That said, he hit a huge and-one in the fourth quarter to help keep bring the game back to the kind of deficit that allowed Davis and James back into the game. He’d miss the free-throw, but Dwight Howard grabbed the board and dunked it home to make it a four-point game, part of the 14-0 run that gave the Lakers back the lead and swung the momentum in L.A.’s favor.
James made his way back in with 8:37 left in the game, and given the opportunity to take over, he did his thing. The Lakers built on that run and pretty quickly disposed of Chicago from that point on. Kuzma finished with 15 points, while James rounded out another solid night with 30 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, his third triple-double in a row.
The Lakers are so talented that they’ll be able to hang with just about anyone and, on nights like Tuesday where they play a vastly inferior opponent, be able to dominate when they have to and win handily, even if they didn’t really earn it with their play early in the game. But there are going to be nights where it would be nice to take care of business earlier in the game so as to get their rotation more rest.
The Lakers now have a couple days off as they come off a 3-0 road trip before resuming play at home Friday night against Jimmy Butler and the surprising Miami Heat.