The Lakers' time back in Los Angeles was short and forgettable, playing just one game at home and falling to the New York Knicks. They did hang their In-Season Tournament (IST) banner, but it did little to take away the agony of defeat on Monday.
They find themselves on a two-game losing streak and have three losses in the past four games following their IST success. Now the team heads east again, facing the Chicago Bulls and looking to return to their winning ways.
Start time and TV schedule
Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls
When: 5 p.m. PT, Dec. 20
Where: United Center
Watch: Spectrum Sportsnet
The Lakers and Bulls have been linked together all season, but not due to similar play styles or some preview for an NBA Finals matchup. No, it's all been about Zach LaVine being on the trade market and Chicago being likely sellers of other quality players such as Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan.
You'll hear rumblings about it throughout the game or think about potential swaps depending on who underperforms or shines. One player we will not see on the court is LaVine, who has been out with a foot injury since late November.
With LaVine sidelined, the team has rallied together to go 6-3 with players like Coby White taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase their skills. In their most recent game, White gave an All-Star-caliber performance against the Sixers, scoring 24 points in the win.
The Laker guards, particularly Austin Reaves and D'Angelo Russell, will be largely responsible for disrupting White's hot streak and keeping the Bull's guard in check. Something they failed to do versus Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks guards.
Even with the Lakers struggling to rack up wins, Chicago is in worse shape with an 11-17 record and in turmoil with players essentially just waiting for the first transaction in this fire sale to happen.
The schedule hasn't been kind for the Lakers in December, but this is the most winnable game of this road trip, so, hopefully, they can secure the victory.
Notes and Updates:
- For the Lakers injury report, Vincent (left knee effusion) and Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis) are probable. Anthony Davis (left ankle sprain/bone bruise) and LeBron James (left calf contusion) are questionable and Jalen Hood-Schifino (low back spasm) is OUT
- For Chicago, Lonzo Ball (left knee), LaVine (right foot inflammation), Torrey Craig (right heel soreness), Onuralp Bitim (nasal fracture), and Henri Drell (right thumb sprain) are all out. Caruso (left ankle sprain) and Patrick Williams (right calf strain) are probable.
- This is the first Lakers vs. Bulls matchup this season and the only time James and the Lakers will play against Chicago in the house that Michael Jordan built.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.