So many people have written off the LA Lakers coming into this season. They’re a year older and mixing in some fresh parts while trying to integrate a new system under coach Mike Brown. Plus, the Lakers are without starting center Andrew Bynum for the first four games of the season as he serves a suspension.
But there were these Lakers leading the youthful Chicago Bulls by as much as 11 late in the fourth quarter and by six going into the final minute. And that’s when the reigning MVP stepped up and the home team fell apart.
Kobe Bryant turned the ball over with 20 seconds left and Derrick Rose took advantage, hitting a floater in the lane with 4.8 seconds to give the Bulls the lead. Bryant tried to answer but his shot was blocked at the buzzer by Luol Deng as the Bulls took the game 88-87.
LA was their own worst enemy with nine missed free throws and 17 turnovers, eight of which came from Bryant. You can question whether or not the torn ligament in his shooting hand may have had an effect on his ball handling but it didn’t hurt his shooting as he went 11-23 for 28 points.
Rose went scoreless in the first quarter but finished with 22 points while Deng chipped in with 21.
This is what the Bulls do, hang around in games when their offense isn’t clicking by using their defense to and then let Rose take over. Now, the Lakers have learned that valuable lesson.
While LA had a few bright spots with newcomers Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy as well as second year player Devin Ebanks in the starting lineup, this is a team that will have to grind out wins. And that’s why they desperately need another superstar to pair with Bryant if he has any hopes of winning another championship during his career.