Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls: Postgame Grades and Analysis
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Taj Gibson hit a game-winning layup as time expired, and the Chicago Bulls outlasted the Los Angeles Lakers, 102-100, in overtime on Monday night.

This was a tighly contested game throughout, with the two teams trading blows back and forth until the Bulls ultimately had the final say.

Nick Young led all scorers with 31 points and sent the game into overtime by drawing a foul on Joakim Noah from behind the three-point line. Young would make all three free throws to knot up the score and force the extra session.

D.J. Augustin led Chicago with 27 points off the bench, and Noah posted 17 points and 21 rebounds in a monster all-around effort.

This was hardly a pretty affair, as the Bulls shot only 38.2 percent in the win. But then, when is a contest that involves Chicago ever pretty?

Tough loss for LA.

Still, head coach Mike D'Antoni has been happy with the effort his team has been showing of late.

Key Player Grades

 

Los Angeles Lakers

Pau Gasol, Center

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How about the monstrous effort from Pau Gasol on both ends of the floor Monday night?

Gasol turned back the clock with a masterful performance against the Bulls, tallying 20 points, 19 rebounds, five blocks and three steals.

Talk about doing it all.

For the first time in what seems like, well, forever, Gasol served as a stout force on the defensive side of the ball, constantly contesting shots, and if he wasn't blocking them, he was at least altering them.

Pau also made some huge plays in the fourth quarter, including a beautiful move in the post where he spun baseline by Joakim Noah and made a nifty reverse layup. That was part of a run of six straight points by the Spaniard.

Unfortunately, Gasol clearly ran out of gas in overtime, committing a couple of costly turnovers. It's hard to blame him, though.

The big man went 8-for-15 from the floor.

Grade: A

 

Jodie Meeks, Shooting Guard

Jodie Meeks put forth a solid all-around outing against the Bulls.

The 2-guard contributed 16 points, shooting 4-of-10 from the floor and making all six of his free-throw attempts. He also chipped in a healthy seven assists.

What I have liked most about Meeks' play this year is his penchant for being the first one down the floor on fast breaks. He is frequently the Laker who finishes transition opportunities, and that says a lot about the man's hustle.

That was on display once again on Monday night.

Grade: B

 

Wesley Johnson, Small Forward

This wasn't one of Wesley Johnson's better nights.

The wiry forward didn't make a single shot, going 0-of-4 from the floor (0-of-3 from distance). He also logged only one rebound in 14 minutes and failed to record an assist.

Johnson managed only one point.

Grade: F

 

Kendall Marshall, Point Guard

Kendall Marshall quieted down against Chicago after a string of very impressive performances.

The floor general posted only three points off 1-of-4 shooting and had his streak of five straight games with double-digit assists snapped, registering only eight dimes in 40 minutes.

Marshall also committed four turnovers, mostly due to forcing some passes into tight spaces.

Finally, the long guard brought down only one rebound.

Grade: C-

 

Ryan Kelly, Power Forward

It's impressive just how comfortable Ryan Kelly looks out there.

The rookie recorded 13 points and seven boards, displaying savvy on both ends of the floor and not demonstrating the typical nerves you'd come to expect from a first-year player.

Kelly shot 4-of-9 from the field and went a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

He also only turned the rock over once in 34 minutes.

Grade: B-

 

Nick Young, Sixth Man

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Nick Young was superb for the second straight game.

The explosive reserve finished with a game-high 31 points, sending the game into overtime by drawing a foul on a three-pointer (he hit all three free throws) and nearly forcing double overtime by hitting a game-tying shot with six seconds to go in the extra session.

Young shot 11-of-23 from the floor, nailing three triples and going 6-of-7 from the free-throw line.

He also grabbed five rebounds in 43 minutes.

Grade: A-

 

Bench

While Manny Harris didn't shoot the ball well (2-for-9), he gave the Lakers some productive minutes, pulling down six rebounds in 21 ticks. Still, the seven misses obviously hurt.

Robert Sacre did a great job defensively, blocking three shots in 16 minutes. He also had four points.

Finally, Jordan Hill contributed seven points and three rebounds, exhibiting some great footwork in the post offensively.

Grade: C

 

 

Chicago Bulls

Joakim Noah, Center

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Noah was an absolute animal in this game. The center had already amassed a double-double by halftime, extending his streak of contests with 10 or more rebounds.

He's got a long way to go to catch the Bulls franchise leader, though. Any guesses as to who that is? Never mind. I'll allow Bulls radio producer Jeff Mangurten to tell you below.

Noah was simply outstanding in all facets. He hustled, he crashed the glass and he made excellent passes to cutters. The latter was exemplified when Noah made a gorgeous pass to a backdoor cutting Jimmy Butler, who converted a reverse layup to put Chicago up by two with 32.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

It was a typical Joakim Noah performance where he impacts the game from all angles.

However, Noah made a colossal error with four seconds remaining in regulation, fouling Nick Young from behind the three-point line when the Bulls were up three. Young made all three free throws.

The fiery big man finished with 17 points, 21 rebounds (seven offensive) and six assists.

Grade: A

 

Carlos Boozer, Power Forward

Carlos Boozer really struggled in this one.

The big man went only 4-of-16 from the floor and was unable to get into any kind of rhythm. He also did not have the kind of impact he would have liked on the boards, corralling only six rebounds in 28 minutes.

Boozer scored 11 points and was benched in favor of Taj Gibson down the stretch.

At least he didn't turn the ball over at all.

Grade: D-

 

Jimmy Butler, Shooting Guard

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Butler struggled mightily with his shot, going only 6-for-19 and missing all four of his three-point attempts, but this was still a solid all-around game for the youngster.

Butler finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds (five offensive), five assists and four steals in 50 minutes, making smart decisions in transition and having a clear impact on both ends of the floor despite not having his best shooting night.

Butler is one of those players who does not have to hit shots to be effective. He is that good in all other areas of the game, and his instincts defensively are incredible.

Still, all of these minutes he is accumulating is probably going to shorten his career. I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there, though.

Grade: B

 

Kirk Hinrich, Point Guard

Kirk Hinrich injured his hamstring after 19 minutes in this one and did not return.

However, I'm not so sure Hinrich would have gotten much more playing time even if he remained healthy, as he was thoroughly outplayed by his backup, D.J. Augustin.

Hinrich mustered only four points and three assists, turning the ball over three times in the process.

He shot 2-for-4.

Grade: D+

 

Mike Dunleavy, Small Forward

Mike Dunleavy didn't hit any threes in this one, but he was still productive.

The forward scored 12 points off 6-of-12 shooting, adding three rebounds, three assists and three steals to his stat sheet. Oh, and he had the game-winning assist to Gibson.

This was a nice performance for Dunleavy overall, as the former Dukie played within himself and did not try to do too much, just like usual.

Grade: B

 

Taj Gibson, Sixth Man

Gibson was quiet throughout this entire contest...until there were 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime.

Gibson cut to the basket, received an inbounds pass and scored the game-winning bucket as time expired, his 12th and final points of the contest.

Up until that point, it was a struggle for Gibson.

The big man went only 3-for-11 and grabbed a pedestrian six rebounds in 30 minutes.

Still, he made something happen when it counted, so he gets bonus points for that.

Plus, Gibson added two blocks and two steals to his totals.

Grade: B-

 

Bench

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Where would the Bulls have been without D.J. Augustin?

The point guard displayed the kind of prowess that many expected of him coming out of college, as he posted 27 points off 10-of-16 shooting, knocking down five of his seven three-point tries and making big play after big play in the fourth quarter and overtime. As a matter of fact, 16 of his 27 came in the fourth period and extra session.

To put the cherry on top, Augustin chipped in four rebounds and four dimes in 37 minutes.

Tony Snell also added six points, but this was all about Augustin, who had his best game as a Bull.

Grade: A+

 

What's Next for the Lakers?

This is a tough loss for the Lakers to swallow, and they will not get a break in their next contest. Los Angeles plays the Miami Heat next, followed by matchups against the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks to conclude a seven-game road trip.

If LA wants to have any shot at the playoffs, it probably has to beat the Magic and the Knicks. You can't lose games like that if you are fighting for a postseason berth in the Western Conference.

 

What's Next for the Bulls?

The next five games are a mixed bag for the Bulls.

They get a winnable road contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, and then they get a back-to-back with the Los Angeles Clippers (road) and Charlotte Bobcats (home).

Chicago will then see the Minnesota Timberwolves at the United Center before heading out West to take on the San Antonio Spurs.

If the Bulls can come out of that with three wins, they should consider it a success.

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