The Chicago Bulls took another injury hit and kept on chugging, with a 95-83 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
With an elite defender like Luol Deng missing from the lineup, there should have been an eruption from Kobe Bryant. Instead, Bryant shot just 7-of-22 from the field, scoring only 16 points.
The Bulls' defense inserted Jimmy Butler into the starting role, and as a whole held the Lakers to a season-low 83 points on 39.5-percent shooting.
Kirk Hinrich led an offensive push from a Chicago team that was coming off three straight overtime games. He went 9-of-11 for 22 points, to go along with eight assists and seven rebounds.
Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni attempted to shake things up, moving Pau Gasol to the bench in favor of Earl Clark, but that only hindered their already sputtering offense.
The Bulls, who are on the verge of getting Derrick Rose back, improved to 24-16 on the season. Los Angeles dropped its third straight game, falling to 17-24.
Let's hit the Bleacher Report classroom to see how things graded out in this grueling Chicago win.
Kirk Hinrich, CHI PG: A
Kirk Hinrich recognized a weakness in a slow Steve Nash and took full advantage of it.
He tormented Nash all night with a variety of moves and even hit some outside shots. Hinrich was the beneficiary of a few Chicago fast breaks as well, en route to his 22 points.
It took him only 11 shots to get there, hitting nine of them, as this was a massively efficient effort by the Bulls' point guard. He was on fire from all over the floor, hitting 3 of his 4 shots from distance as well. He also added eight assists and seven rebounds, completely dominating the game for Chicago.
Steve Nash, LAL PG: A-
Steve Nash was one of the only things keeping Los Angeles in the game in the first half. He finished the first 24 minutes with 11 points, helped along by a pair of technical free throws.
Nash finished just the way he started, but it wasn't nearly enough. He tallied a team-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and dished out six assists. This was another game proving Nash is getting healthier and healthier as this season moves along.
Like much of the Lakers' season, this was a matchup that should have favored the team on paper, but Kirk Hinrich played well against Nash and Kobe Bryant.
Tellingly, Nash posted a minus-seven on the night, illustrating the quality of game Hinrich played.
Kobe Bryant, LAL SG: C-
Kobe Bryant got off to a slow start against the Bulls, missing some shots early. He had only eight points at halftime.
He came on strong at the end of the third quarter. When the Lakers made a big 20-10 run to get back into the game, Bryant was the main offensive weapon, going for six points during the five-minute stretch.
In the end, nothing Kobe did seemed to work. He finished 7-of-22 from the field and was completely stymied by Jimmy Butler for stretches. He did finish with 16 points and five assists, but only scored two in the fourth quarter.
Rip Hamilton, CHI SG: C-
Rip Hamilton got his 13 points, but it took 18 shots to get there.
Hamilton's inefficiency was largely hidden by Kirk Hinrich's outburst, but this wasn't a particularly great game from the Bulls' shooting guard.
He had to be hidden on both ends of the floor, shooting just 6-of-18 from the floor offensively and letting Jimmy Butler take Kobe Bryant on the other end.
Jimmy Butler, CHI SF: B+
Replacing an ailing Luol Deng, Jimmy Butler earned just his second start of the season for the Bulls.
While it wasn't flashy, Butler was very productive in the game. While on the court, he had a positive influence on the Bulls, putting up a game-high plus-17. Butler finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
He did the main thing Deng is responsible for: playing big minutes and defending the opposition's first option. He played 43 minutes and really went at Kobe Bryant all night, while the Bulls hid Rip Hamilton defensively. Bryant was held to just 7-of-22 shooting and had 16 points.
Metta World Peace, LAL SF: B-
It was a pretty outstanding defensive effort overall from Metta World Peace. He had a big hand in keeping the Bulls' frontcourt players to below-average offensive outputs.
World Peace finished with four steals on the night, but didn't seem to have the same effect late in the game. He couldn't hold down Marco Belinelli or Carlos Boozer in the final minutes, letting Chicago pull away late in the fourth quarter.
His final stats still look pretty good, and it is tough to pin this loss on him. World Peace finished with 12 points and eight rebounds to go along with his four steals and three blocks.
Earl Clark, LAL PF: B-
Earl Clark got somewhat of a surprise start in this game, his fifth of the season for the Lakers.
Playing in the place of Pau Gasol, who was relegated to the bench, Clark made the most of his opportunity. He was aggressive from the start against a tough Chicago front line, putting up six first-half shots. He finished 6-of-13 from the field, putting up the third-most shots on the team.
Clark posted 12 points and eight rebounds (four offensive). So, Mike D'Antoni's idea wasn't totally for naught, as both Clark and Gasol played well. However, when your team scores a historic low in points, you can't feel good about bringing one of the great offensive bigs in the league off the bench.
Carlos Boozer, CHI PF: B-
Carlos Boozer was stymied for most of the game by Earl Clark and Metta World Peace, but got his in the end.
Boozer scored four big points to hammer the nail into the Lakers' coffin at the end of the fourth quarter.
Throughout the game though, Boozer had trouble getting his offense going. He finished 7-of-17 for just 14 points and six rebounds, well below his season averages.
He did, however notch a couple of blocks and play some solid interior defense, putting up a plus-11 on the night.
Joakim Noah, CHI C: A-
Not a lot stood out about Joakim Noah's game.
That is, until you looked at Dwight Howard's box score. Noah dominated the matchup defensively, as he always seems to do. He worked Howard into foul trouble early in the fourth quarter, nullifying his impact on the end of the game.
Noah grabbed his requisite 13 boards, five of them offensive, and blocked six shots. He scored only six points on eight shots, but that didn't matter much.
Dwight Howard, LAL C:
Should Dwight Howard be getting more than five shots in a big game?
The answer to that is fairly obvious, but against the Chicago Bulls, that is all he got. Howard finished 2-of-5 for eight points Monday night, in an embarrassing offensive display by his Los Angeles Lakers.
He was completely held in check all night by Joakim Noah, who allowed him to get to the line eight times knowing he would hit only four of the free throws.
Howard's nine rebounds didn't mean much as the Bulls got off 12 more shot attempts, despite being out-rebounded 50-40.
With Kobe Bryant not scoring, Howard should have been looking for his offense a lot more. Foul trouble also hindered him yet again, as he saw only 30 minutes of play.
Pau Gasol, LAL PF: B+
Pau Gasol really didn't let getting demoted to a reserve role affect his play in this game.
The usual starting power forward for Los Angeles came off the bench Monday night, but still had a profound impact on the proceedings. He seemed to be the only Laker fighting until the end, perhaps trying to win back his starting role.
Gasol played well considering the situation, going 6-of-14 from the field for 15 points in just 26 minutes. He also grabbed 12 rebounds for the only double-double of the game.
Nate Robinson, CHI SG: B
Nine first-half points by Nate Robinson really helped the Bulls build their halftime lead.
Robinson was electric off the bench, hitting three threes in the half and not allowing for any drop in play with the second unit. That was an immensely important aspect of his game, as Kirk Hinrich was playing so well.
However, Robinson was little-used in the second half, going for only two points. He finished with only 15 minutes, but his efficient 11 points and three steals really helped the Bulls build their early lead.
Chicago Bulls Bench: A
This wasn't a huge game for either team's bench, but the Chicago Bulls got the edge thanks to another great outing by Marco Belinelli.
Belinelli hit a pair of threes late in the fourth quarter that really started finishing the Lakers off. This has become a theme of his for the Bulls of late. Belinelli has really become a clutch late-game scorer for a team that really doesn't have a go-to option in those situations. The reserve guard hit all three of his three-point attempts, finishing with 15 points.
Particularly with Luol Deng out for the night, the bench scoring really had to step up, and that is exactly what they did.
Los Angeles Lakers Bench: F
Outside of their sixth-man production from Pau Gasol, the Lakers got next to nothing from their second unit.
Antawn Jamison saw 15 minutes, but posted only two points and three rebounds. Chris Duhon gave nothing in 12 minutes of play and nobody else saw meaningful time.
This is a consistent problem with the Lakers, as their bench was outscored by Chicago's 30-17.