The Lakers conclude their heavy home schedule in January with a matchup against the visiting Chicago Bulls on Thursday. This will be the last time both teams go at it in the regular season and the final home game before L.A. embarks on a five-game road trip.
Start time and TV schedule
Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls
When: 7:30 PT, Jan. 25
Where: Crypto.com Arena
Watch: Spectrum Sportsnet
Without LeBron James in the lineup against the Clippers on Monday, the Lakers could’ve easily decided to lay down without much of a fight. But they didn’t and, as frustrating as it is to view this one as a moral victory, it was proof that this team hasn’t given up yet. That they’re still willing to fight until the wheels fall off in games that matter and that’s something they should capitalize on moving forward.
The next four games are extremely important for the Lakers because they’re against teams that have worse records than them. It’s finally a chance for the purple and gold to climb above a .500 and, more importantly, move up in the competitive Western Conference standings.
It sounds weird talking about the Lakers’ chances of climbing the Western Conference standings after a loss last Monday. But since L.A.’s next four games serve as one of the easiest stretches they’ll see this season, now is the time to take advantage. The Lakers have to start fighting for a decent spot in the standings before it’s too late and they find themselves cramming again as they did the last two years.
That said, it’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers approach this one against the Bulls on Thursday. Will they play like they know they have a chance of climbing above .500 and making a run in the next few games? Or will they once again play down to their opponent and drop another loss like they have done way too often this season?
Zooming in to the Bulls
The Bulls (21-24) smoked the Lakers last December on their home floor without Zach LaVine. Interestingly, they’re 11-9 this season without LaVine and they’ll be without him again on Thursday.
Similar to the purple and gold, the Chicago is pretty mediocre and inconsistent across the board — they’re ranked 23rd in offensive rating and 15th in defensive rating. They’re in the bottom tier of points averaged per game (110.6), so if they suddenly drop 77 points at the end of first half like the Clippers did on Monday, then it’s safe to say that L.A.’s defense was the issue again. Remember, this Lakers defense allowed the Bulls to shoot 52.% from the three-point range in their last matchup.
The key factor for the Lakers here is to continue to maximize the hot streak that D’Angelo Russell is on. Russell, who put up 27 points on 40% three-point shooting on Tuesday, will most likely be guarded by Alex Caruso so it’ll be interesting to see if D’Lo can win this matchup. With Cam Reddish listed as out for this one, it’ll also be nice to see Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt and Taurean Prince — who all combined for 34 points against the Clippers — get more touches as well.
On top of that, there’s also a good chance James returns to the lineup as he is now listed as questionable on the injury report. If James and Anthony Davis play then there’s no excuse for the Lakers to lose against a inferior team. They may have shown that there’s still a lot of fight in them, but can that propel them to finally string some wins together?
We’ll know how badly the Lakers want to do just that against the Bulls on Thursday.
Notes and Updates:
- As mentioned above, Cam Reddish (right ankle sprain) will not be available as well as Maxwell Lewis (non-COVID illness) and Gabe Vincent (left knee surgery). Meanwhile, LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) and Anthony Davis (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy) are listed as questionable.
- For the Bulls, Zach LaVine (right ankle sprain), Torrey Craig (right plantar fascia), and Lonzo Ball (left knee surgery) are out. Patrick Williams (right ankle sprain) is probable.
You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani