The Los Angeles Lakers will be playing the second night of a back-to-back this evening, as the Chicago Bulls will be blowing into town (get it…The Windy Ci…nevermind). They’ll be looking to avoid two losses in a row, as they lost last night to the San Antonio Spurs — 118-109.
Here’s our preview of tonight’s contest:
Time to see what this team’s made of
Now, to be clear…I think this team is still far away the championship favorites. However, they’re not really playing like that. The Spurs are more than likely not going to be a playoff team, with the loss to them hurting even more given the fact that the Lakers were at home and even had an off day the day before. In addition, the Lakers put forth a less-than-inspiring performance in the game before that, almost having a disastrous collapse at the end of a 94-92 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
If the Lakers lose tonight, it’ll only be a two-game losing streak but it’ll be like a three-game losing streak as the Lakers just haven’t been on lately despite the joys of their 4-0 road trip last week (4-0 against the likes of the Spurs and Grizzlies, mind you).
Last season, Frank Vogel, Anthony Davis, and LeBron James made it a point all season that one of the Lakers’ goals was to never lose two games in a row. Last year they only lost two games in a row in three different instances. One was in December when they lost four straight to some very good teams (Pacers, Bucks, Nuggets, and Clippers), another time was two straight losses in January to the 76ers and Trail Blazers (Kobe Bryant’s death occurred in between those games), and the last was during the seeding games of the bubble where the Lakers’ effort was…lacking.
Tonight will be a good test of this new team’s fortitude, as we will have to see if this group with Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schröder, and Marc Gasol can show the determination to take care of a Bulls team that just isn’t on their level.
Young Bulls come to Staples Center
The Lakers better be ready, as they will be getting the Bulls’ best shot as head coach Billy Donovan and his young team would love to get a signature win in their just as young season. The Bulls are actually 4-2 in their last six games (4-5 on the season), and are coming off of an impressive late win against the Portland Trail Blazers where the Bulls trailed by 20-30 points early in the first half (Bulls did lose their most recent game on Wednesday, 128-124 against the Sacramento Kings).
Despite the Bulls’ recent success, this just isn’t a team that the Lakers should ever lose to. They will most likely be a team trying to get into the playoffs through the play-in tournament, and currently boast Offensive and Defensive Rating ranks of 18th and 26th, respectively. The DRTG is especially interesting, as the Lakers’ 7th ranked offense (in terms of rating) should be able to capitalize.
Don’t underestimate the fact that the older Lakers are on the second night of a back-to-back though — the Bulls currently rank 3rd in the league in terms of PACE. The Lakers have played at a much slower pace, currently ranked 18th in the league. The style of play will dictate a lot tonight, and if the young Bulls can out-run the Lakers in transition, we might be seeing another loss tonight.