“They had us in the first half, not gonna lie.”
The Los Angeles Lakers were in the midst of their worst performance of the season by far until they weren’t. After taking a 19 point deficit into halftime and barely chipping away at it by the end of the third quarter, the Lakers flipped their switch once again. They started the fourth quarter on a 32 to six run, eventually blasting past the Chicago Bulls 118 to 112 on the road to notch their sixth straight win.
The Lakers have made a habit of coming out of the gate slow and even with a changed starting lineup (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope started for an injured Avery Bradley), it was much of the same. LeBron James (and perhaps JaVale McGee) seemed to be the only Laker playing with any intensity in the first half, keeping the team in the fold despite numerous unforced turnovers and poor defensive rotations.
The second half saw a more balanced effort. Anthony Davis, who struggled mightily in the first half, made more headway against the Bulls young frontcourt of Lauri Markannen and Wendell Carter Jr. Kyle Kuzma, who made only two of eight field goal attempts in the first three quarters, went on a personal 7-0 run to finish the game with 15 points. In fact, it was Kuzma’s finally found offense that allowed the Lakers to cut into the deficit with neither James nor Davis on the floor. The defense also found its groove especially in the fourth quarter where they allowed just 14 points in the first 11 minutes.
James finished the game with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists, notching his third triple-double in as many games.
The Lakers also got some help from their backup guard combo of Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso. The latter continued his run of excellent defense while Cook finally found his shot for the first time in this regular season, scoring 17 huge points (on 6-9 shooting from the field and 3-4 shooting from behind the arc).
While the Lakers will need to fix their first-half woes as it can be a major issue against more talented teams, it’s been a sign of the depth and talent of this squad that they have routinely been able to dig out of holes to win.