The Chicago Bulls earned their fourth win in the last five games with a 121-103 road victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
In his homecoming, DeMar DeRozan led the way with 38 points as Chicago improved to 10-4 and remained in first place in the Central Division. Fellow Los Angeles native Lonzo Ball added a season-high 27 points on 7-of-10 shooting from three-point range.
The Lakers fell to 8-7 after their second loss in their last three games. Talen Horton-Tucker had a career-high 28 points, while Russell Westbrook added 25. Anthony Davis had 20 points but was ejected after receiving his second technical foul late in the third quarter.
Lakers star LeBron James missed his seventh straight game because of an abdominal strain, but he is rumored to be returning "soon," per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.
Notable Player Stats
G DeMar DeRozan, CHI: 38 points (15-of-23 FG)
G Lonzo Ball, CHI: 27 points (season high), 8 assists
G Zach LaVine, CHI: 26 points
G Talen Horton-Tucker: 28 points (career high)
G Russell Westbrook, LAL: 25 points, 8 assists
F Anthony Davis, LAL: 20 points
Bulls' Efficient Shooting Leads to Victory
Chicago's offense was clicking Monday, particularly with its three-point shooting. Despite averaging just 9.9 threes per game, the Bulls got off to a hot start and were shooting lights-out in the first half.
The Bulls shot 56.3 percent from three-point range and 55.0 percent overall in the first half. DeRozan (22 points) and LaVine (17) combined for 39 of Chicago's 57 points before halftime. LaVine connected on five of his nine three-pointers.
Chicago stayed hot in the second half, getting out in transition and finishing inside. The Bulls outscored the Lakers 37-25 in the third quarter.
DeRozan had 14 points in the third quarter on 6-of-6 shooting. The NBA's sixth-leading scorer picked up where he left off after scoring 35 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Chicago Bulls @chicagobulls
DEMAR DEROZAN IS DEEP IN HIS BAG. <br><br>(Check out the bench)<a href="https://twitter.com/NBCSChicago?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NBCSChicago</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/DeMar_DeRozan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DeMar_DeRozan</a> <a href="https://t.co/sv1WiipJYj">pic.twitter.com/sv1WiipJYj</a>
Ball, who entered the game shooting 41.6 percent from three-point range, came one three-pointer shy of tying his career high of eight.
Chicago shooting like this from three-point land can't be an expectation for the rest of the season. But the efficiency displayed Monday is what the Bulls should try to duplicate going forward.
If the Bulls can continue to maintain their balance and consistency on both offense and defense, they will have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016-17.
Anthony Davis Gets Shut Down By Bulls' Small Lineup
The Bulls came out with a clear defensive game plan, and that was to keep the ball away from Lakers star Anthony Davis. The big man was coming off a 34-point, 15-rebound performance Sunday but couldn't get going despite having a size advantage over the Bulls defenders.
Chicago executed perfectly, limiting Davis to seven points on four field-goal attempts in the first half. The Bulls did an excellent job with their ball-denial and sent a double-team to Davis each time he got a touch to force the ball out of his hands.
Davis was able to get going with 13 points in the third quarter, but by then the Lakers had fallen behind by double digits. He ended up getting ejected for just the second time in his 10-year career while Los Angeles was trailing by 19 with 2:20 left in the third. Davis picked up his second technical when he yelled at an official for resuming play while he was fixing his shoe.
Davis is one of the best players in the NBA on both ends of the floor. The Lakers can't afford for him to play without aggression and let smaller defenders get him off his game.
Davis has had to shoulder more of the load while James has been out, so perhaps Monday's performance was an anomaly as fatigue catches up to him. The early trip to the locker room didn't help matters. Look for him to return to his old self the next time the Lakers are in action.
The Bulls will look to keep the momentum going in a road game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday. The Lakers will begin a five-game road trip Wednesday with a matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks.