If nothing else this season, the Lakers have proven to be a resilient bunch. Despite injuries running rampant throughout the team and expectations their lowest in decades, this Lakers unit fights night in and night out, evidenced by late game rallies in both the 4th quarter and overtime. Both cases saw Nick Young hit late game buckets to even the game, three free throws in the fourth quarter a pull-up jumper with six seconds left in overtime.
But their Achilles heel (sorry Kobe) on the season has been defense, and it reared it’s ugly head on the night, as a lay-up by Taj Gibson as time expired on a lapse defensively cost the Lakers their third win in a row. Gibson’s lay-up came on an out-of-bounds play with 0.9 seconds left, which saw Manny Harris allow Gibson into the paint and a poorly positioned Pau Gasol did little to slow down the Bulls forward.
Young did all he could on the night, finishing with a season-high 31 points on 11 of 23 shooting. His three free throws with four seconds remaining in the fourth quarter pulled the purple and gold even and sent the game to overtime. And it was Swaggy P’s pull-up jumper off a Jodie Meeks assist that tied the game before Gibson’s heroics.
Pau Gasol joined Young in the high-scoring column with 20 points on the night. His 19 boards were a season-high, as were his five blocks. But it was a handful of late turnovers in overtime by Gasol that put the Lakers into a deficit late in the extra frame.
Only Jodie Meeks (16 points) and Ryan Kelly (13 points) finished in double figures with Young and Gasol. The Bulls, however, saw six players in double figures and featured a far more balanced attack on the night. In fact, the Bulls won or tied each quarter aside from the 2nd quarter, where they put up a dismal 18 points. However, the Lakers 3rd quarter woes disappeared for the night, but if not for a late-game foul by Joakim Noah leading to Young’s free throws, they may have been doomed.
The Lakers road trip continues with a contest Thursday in Miami.