LA Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls: 5 Observations from Christmas Day at Staples Center

J FCorrespondent IDecember 26, 2011

LA Lakers vs. Chicago Bulls: 5 Observations from Christmas Day at Staples Center

0 of 5

    Nobody was really sure what to expect coming into this Christmas day matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls, but LA's last minute meltdown certainly wasn't predicted as the Bulls stole the win.

    Kobe Bryant and the Lakers had an interesting offseason with coaching changes, name changes, blown up trades, injuries, suspensions, and a divorce, meaning expectations were a little lower than usual coming into opening day.

    The team's lineup looked much different than the team that repeated as champions just two seasons ago, but the Bulls brought in a squad that was nearly unchanged except for the addition of Richard Hamilton.

    Nevertheless, the game was competitive throughout and provided some interesting insight for the remainder of the season as two of the NBA's top teams met to kick it off.

The Lakers' Young Guns Can Play

1 of 5

    Sophomore small forward Devin Ebanks got the start on Sunday for the Lakers and was extremely efficient. He shot 80 percent from the floor and contributed eight points.

    Rookie guard Andrew Goudelock also saw some decent minutes and made two out of three from behind the arc.

    LA's young players proved reliable in their first NBA action this season, and they'll have to keep it up if the Lakers' bench is to be effective.

Lakers Looking to Make a Move?

2 of 5

    ESPN reporter Heather Cox briefly interviewed Lakers' GM Mike Kupchak during a break in the action and asked him about his team potentially trading for the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard.

    He said he couldn't talk about another team's player, but it certainly seemed like he was looking to make a move to improve his own team.

    The Lakers showed that they can compete without Andrew Bynum in the starting lineup, so is it only a matter of time before Dwight Howard suits up in LA instead?

Derrick Rose Is Very Valuable to Bulls Title Hopes

3 of 5

    Derrick Rose had a slow start on Sunday, but last year's MVP eventually caught fire from downtown.

    He was 4-for-6 from behind the arc and finished with 22 points as he carried Chicago with his scoring and put in the winning bucket.

    The Bulls will need many big games from him if they want to contend for the title this season.

Lakers Defense Is Crucial to Success

4 of 5

    Los Angeles did a great job defensively in their first game, holding the Bulls to 88 points. They played hard and fought for every loose ball, which often also led to easy offense.

    They also outrebounded the Bulls, and they have to be happy with the 16 combined boards and overall defensive effort from their recently-acquired players, Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy.

    The Lakers made many important stops during the game, but couldn't contain Derek Rose on the game-winning shot.

Kobe Is Still Kobe

5 of 5

    Kobe Bryant says he's confident about his supporting cast this season, but there's no doubt he's unhappy with the moves management made in the offseason.

    However, as a player, he knows all that he can do is play, and he knows he can do that pretty well.

    Kobe was his usual self in the opener with 28 points, seven rebounds, and six assists despite his wrist issues and off-the-court personal problems. His health is crucial to the Lakers' success this season, and he's willing to push through the pain.

    The only way his wrist might have affected his game was the eight uncommon turnovers he committed, including throwing the ball away in the final seconds.