There was uncertainty heading into the game whether LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell were going to play as they were both listed as game-time decisions. Fortunately however, both started and produced. James ended the night with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Russell added 17 points on 58% shooting and was a game-high +35.
Anthony Davis was dominant against the Bulls’ front court on Wednesday with 38 points and 10 rebounds.
The team’s new starting five impressed, as four members scored double-digit points and all finished a positive in the box score.
It was just the fourth time the trio of Anthony Davis, James and Russell have played together since the trade deadline. They remain undefeated in those games.
The first quarter was absolute dominance from the Lakers as they rushed out of the gates on a 25-10 run. The Bulls’ scoring came via Nikola Vucevic early on, but despite the big’s strong start, the Lakers held an 11-point advantage after the first 12 minutes.
The second quarter wasn't as smooth sailing.
Chicago finally got production from someone other than Vucevic, most notably DeMar DeRozan, who ended the half with 11 points. With their once 17-point lead suddenly turned to a deficit on the scoreboard, the Lakers responded with a 10-0 closing run behind an aggressive James.
Halftime: Lakers 59, Bulls 51. LeBron sparked a 10-0 run to end the half.— Michael Corvo (@michaelcorvoNBA) March 30, 2023
Reaves: 12 pts, team-high +23
FTs: LA 12-16, CHI 4-6
Rebounds: LA 28, CHI 14
Turnovers: LA 10, CHI 4 (17 pts off TOs for the Bulls)
The third quarter couldn’t have started better for the purple and gold. An 11-4 start was spearheaded by the budding pick and roll chemistry between Russell and Davis.
In only his second game back from his lengthy injury, James looked much more comfortable on the court. He ran full-speed in transition, was active defensively, and ended the night a +23.
Throughout the game, Darvin Ham made some glaring changes to his rotation. He debuted a new starting five, played more guys and opted for “hockey shifts,” as he trotted out an all-bench lineup at one point. It could’ve been just situational, but this was unexpected and something to keep an eye on during this final stretch.
With 9:07 left in the fourth quarter, Russell extended the Lakers’ lead with a 27-foot three to give the Lakers an 18-point advantage. The good times kept rolling as James hit fadeaway after fadeaway and even his errors looked impressive. On a fast break, Dennis Schröder hit James with a no-look pass and although James missed it, Davis was there to finish.
The exclamation point on the game came from Austin Reaves when after a bucket against his former teammate Patrick Beverley, Reaves made the same “too small” gesture Beverley tossed James’ way in the teams’ previous matchup.
The big three are now 4-0 in games they’ve played together and looked spectacular. The bench units? Not so much.
Ham will have to figure out how to stagger his starters to keep the team’s production up throughout the game, a feat that’s never been easy on James’ led teams.
That undefeated streak will next be tested against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Like every contest at this stage, this is yet again another huge game with play-in implications. The Lakers currently trail the Timberwolves by just one game for the seventh seed.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.