Lakers rally late to avoid embarrassing loss to Bulls
LOS ANGELES — Lonzo Ball’s jersey was untucked, and he was snatching rebounds out of the air with attitude.
This was far from the sometimes passive rookie the Lakers have seen at times this season. Down by as many as 19 and looking as cooked as a turkey on Thanksgiving, the Lakers refused to quit whenever they fall behind big.
The Lakers came to life in the third quarter and fought the Chicago Bulls down the stretch, with Ball hitting the glass like a dominant big man for the second straight game.
Following his second triple-double, which featured a career-high 16 rebounds, Ball snagged 13 boards to go with eight points and four assists as the Lakers came away with a 103-94 win that wasn’t decided until the final three-plus minutes. It was their biggest comeback of the season.
Ball’s impact on the game could be felt not only on the glass but also with a 20-7 run in the fourth that helped the Lakers clinch the game. At one point, Ball snagged a rebound before flinging the ball across and up the court to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who shot a rhythm 3-pointer to push the Lakers up 97-92 with 1:42 remaining. The Bulls never recovered.
Kyle Kuzma scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half, but several other Lakers picked the team up in the second half, including Caldwell-Pope, who scored 16 of his 21 points after halftime.
Lonzo Ball drops eight points, picks up 13 rebounds and dishes out four assists to help the Lakers past the Bulls 103-94 at Staples Center.
The Lakers looked horrible at times in the first half, almost as if they were looking ahead to Thanksgiving break. After playing a back-to-back set against Chicago and a game Wednesday in Sacramento, they will have a rare four-day break before playing the Clippers on Monday.
Certainly, the Lakers’ defense looked as if it were already on break. The Lakers watched Antonio Blakeney explode for 15 points in eight minutes and throw down a vicious, one-handed dunk on Julius Randle. Denzel Valentine (17 points) also was hot early.
But the Lakers came to life in the third quarter. After falling behind 61-42 with 10:24 to go in the third, they mounted a furious 30-12 run to cut the deficit to one shortly before the end of the quarter. Throughout this season, the Lakers have somehow managed to keep coming at opponents, despite blowing big leads or falling behind big.
After going scoreless in the first half, Julius Randle sparked the Lakers with eight points, four rebounds and one magnificent block at the rim on Bobby Portis, who was flying toward the basket looking to throw down a dunk.
Jordan Clarkson, the other Lakers sub who has been strong this season, scored 10 points in 14-plus minutes to help even the game at 80-80 with 9:32 left.
The Lakers took their first lead since 21-20 with a Caldwell-Pope putback with 3:06 remaining in the game. From there, Ball kept hitting the glass and pushing the pace to finish Chicago.
Los Angeles has won two in a row (8-10) before flying to Sacramento, where Ball will have a much-anticipated rookie showdown in his first NBA game against De’Aaron Fox.