The Lakers are still riding high off of a solid win over their fellow contender, the Milwaukee Bucks, and are a franchise-best 8-0 on the road to start the season as a result. Their next chance to keep the good vibes and records flowing? A road matchup with the Chicago Bulls, who they already beat once at home earlier this month.
Los Angeles nearly suffered a letdown that night, and with veteran Jared Dudley already being declared out for the game, he won’t be there to save them with an emergency infusion of energy this time. I’m only half kidding. The Bulls are a competitive 7-8 so far this year, but this really should not be a team that the Lakers needed a Zach LaVine clutch miss combined with Dennis Schröder outrunning an intentional foul to put a game away against.
One thing to keep an eye on in this rematch? Pace. The Bulls play at the second-quickest speed of any team in the NBA, averaging 104.77 possessions per game, and are scoring at the fifth-best rate in the league there, averaging 1.18 points per play on the break. The Lakers prefer to play slower, averaging just 100.53 possessions per contest, and although the difference in scoring is somewhat negligible, the Lakers technically do rank 18th with 1.12 points per play on the break.
Still, which team imposes their style may determine the victor here, and if the Lakers cough the ball up a bunch and let Chicago stretch their young legs on the break, they could be in line for the type of embarrassing loss they narrowly avoided last time.
Will the Lakers execute better this time around? It’s hard to say. This team does tend to play with its food this year, and the Bulls are probably not a team the Lakers fully respect (okay, fine, they’re definitely not a team the Lakers fully respect, let’s be real). Will that bad habit of not taking a lesser opponent seriously earning them a loss against the Golden State Warriors earlier this week and their near defeat against Chicago a few weeks ago shake them out of said tendency? We’ll see.
Notes and Updates
- Dudley isn’t the only absence for the Lakers. Kostas Antetokounmpo has also been declared out with continuing right knee patellar tendinitis, while LeBron James (left ankle sprain) is questionable. Anthony Davis (right ankle sprain) is probable.
- For the first time in a few weeks, Wesley Matthews is no longer on the injury report with the Achilles tendon soreness that’s been bothering him, so that’s good news.
- The Bulls, meanwhile, will be missing Wendell Carter Jr. (right quadricep contusion) — who went back and forth with LeBron a bit last game — as well as Devon Dotson (not with team) and Adam Mokoka (concussion).
The Lakers and Bulls tip-off at 6:00 p.m. PT on Saturday, and the game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.