LeBron James' third consecutive triple-double (30 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds) helped the Los Angeles Lakers overcome a 19-point second-half deficit in a 118-112 victory over the host Chicago Bulls on Tuesday at the United Center.
It wasn't easy for the 6-1 Lakers, who have now won six straight.
Los Angeles was down 18 with 4:48 left in the third quarter following an Otto Porter Jr. three-pointer.
However, the Lakers clawed back within 13 before scoring the first 16 points in the fourth to take a 96-93 lead. Chicago responded with a couple of buckets, but L.A. bounced back with a 13-0 run to put the game away.
Kyle Kuzma overcame a rough first half (two points, two turnovers) to score 13 in the second half. Anthony Davis had an off-night (15 points on 6-of-15 shooting) but had three blocks and one steal. Quinn Cook shot 6-of-9 for his 17 points.
Zach LaVine's 26 points paced the Bulls, who shot 50.6 percent from the field. Rookie guard Coby White and Porter each scored 18.
Los Angeles now owns the NBA's best win-loss record. The 2-6 Bulls have dropped five of six.
Lakers G/F LeBron James: 30 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds
Lakers F/C Anthony Davis: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks
Lakers G Quinn Cook: 17 points
Lakers F Kyle Kuzma: 15 points
Bulls G Zach LaVine: 26 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists
Bulls G Coby White: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists
Bulls F Otto Porter Jr.: 18 points
James Keeps Lakers Alive, 2nd Unit Finishes Bulls
The Bulls and Lakers were playing at different speeds for much of the game's first 36 minutes.
Every Bull looked like he was playing on roller skates, gliding in the open floor and launching quick threes with ease. They were also active on defense, intercepting errant passes and causing problems for any Laker not named James.
Meanwhile, most of the Lakers waded in quicksand, running a step slow and committing sloppy turnovers. On most other nights, the Bulls' effort would be enough for a fairly easy victory.
But the Bulls were facing arguably the game's greatest player of all time and perhaps its best today in James and another candidate for the league's best in Davis.
The margin for error against them is so thin. The Lakers can afford to have one of them struggle through an off-night (which Davis had) so long as the other brings it.
That's what happened Tuesday as James prevented this game from being completely out of hand in the first 36 minutes before the rest of the Lakers engineered a dominant fourth-quarter run led by the second unit's performance.
Excellent defense from Dwight Howard, timely shooting from Kuzma and Cook and a few nice plays from fan favorite Alex Caruso vaulted L.A. into the lead:
The Lakers eventually outscored the Bulls 26-4 to start the fourth, washing away the negatives from the first 36 minutes.
Yes, the Bulls are a young and rebuilding team, and the Lakers aren't going to get away with playing as poorly as they did and stealing a win against superior opponents.
Lakers reporter Mike Trudell put it best, however:
L.A. has two future Hall of Famers running the show, and that helps the Lakers find ways to win.
That luxury gives the Lakers some breathing room for sluggish nights like Tuesday and may catapult them to an NBA championship.
White, Carter Offer Hope for Bulls' Future
The Bulls shouldn't be discouraged despite seeing a 19-point lead turn into a six-point loss. They simply ran into a buzzsaw.
But the performances of White and Wendell Carter Jr. provide hope for the Bulls' long-term prospects.
First, the 19-year-old White is the real deal, as evidenced by a dominant first half in which he broke out all the moves in his offensive arsenal:
The ex-UNC star also showed out on the defensive end and used his quick hands to slam one home and get the United Center crowd going:
Clearly White wasn't discouraged by a 7-of-30 performance over his last three games leading into a tough matchup with the league-best Lakers, and that helped the Bulls lead the Lakers by 13 heading into the fourth.
Elsewhere, 20-year-old Carter is a double-double machine.
The ex-Duke star has now posted one in five of his last six games and would have gone 6-of-6 with two more boards against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's also been remarkably efficient from the field, knocking down 27-of-36 field goals in his four games leading into Tuesday.
Analysts weren't shy to praise Carter's efforts:
Tom Haberstroh of NBC Sports even said pregame that Carter has the potential to be the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year someday.
The result isn't what the Bulls wanted, but the White-Carter duo looks like it can help lead the Bulls back to the playoffs before long.
The Lakers will host the Miami Heat on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Bulls will visit the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.