LeBron James, Lakers Beat Bulls as Anthony Davis Drops Season-High 37 Points

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIJanuary 24, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis, center, shoots against the Chicago Bulls during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers kept their road win streak alive Saturday with a 101-90 victory over the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Facing a Bulls team that returned from Charlotte late Friday night, the Lakers (13-4) improved to 9-0 on the year away from Staples Center and took a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific Division.

LeBron James poured in 17 points after he was designated questionable to play. The small forward remained in the starting lineup and was on the floor for 29 minutes in the win. Anthony Davis, meanwhile, posted a season-high 37 points.

Chicago (7-9) had its three-game win streak snapped after taking down the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets and Hornets over the last week.

Faced with a back-to-back in two different cities, the Bulls weren't able to keep pace with the defending champions.

     

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Notable Performers

Anthony Davis, PF, Los Angeles Lakers: 37 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists

LeBron James, SF, Los Angeles Lakers: 17 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists

Zach LaVine, SG, Chicago Bulls: 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists

Coby White, PG, Chicago Bulls: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists

     

Davis Busts Slump in Style

All it took for Lakers star Anthony Davis to break out of his recent shooting slump was a trip back to his hometown of Chicago.

Of course, it's no coincidence the Bulls are a rebuilding team with little post presence who can slow down Davis on an off-day, let alone at his best. And Davis was surely at his best Saturday. The Lakers made sure of that.

Each of the first three L.A. possessions went to Davis in the post to open up the game with the power forward scoring on two of them. It'd be his last miss for a while as Davis finished the first half 10-of-12 from the field for 26 points—the most he's scored since he poured in 27 against the Houston Rockets on Jan. 10. Davis wound up taking seven of the Lakers' first 14 shots, in case it wasn't clear the Lakers were trying to get the big man going.

Along the way, Los Angeles held the Bulls to just 33 points in the first two quarters, good for the fewest points allowed by L.A. in a half since holding the Phoenix Suns to 22 points in January 2016.

All of it ran through Davis, who's confidence was growing in real time.

By the end of the third quarter, Davis was taking turnaround, fadeaway jumpers over multiple Bulls defenders and hitting nothing but net.

This was the type of dominant performance in the frontcourt the Lakers had been missing lately. They'll have to remember to schedule more games in Chicago the next time Davis begins to struggle.

     

Slow Progress in Chicago

If the Bulls were looking at Saturday's matchup as a measuring-stick game, head coach Billy Donovan might not be too thrilled with the results.

Even with Wendell Carter Jr. (hip) and Otto Porter Jr. (rest) out of the lineup against the Lakers, the defending champs showed that there's still a long way to go before the Bulls can be taken seriously across the league—and particularly by those at the top of it.

The struggles were apparent throughout the night, and the inability to guard a slumping Davis doesn't even crack the top three most notable issues.

For starters, Chicago was too careless with the ball, committing 18 turnovers that led to 17 Lakers points.

The Bulls also forced a number of shots from the likes of Coby White, Patrick Williams and Lauri Markkanen, who combined to go 15-of-39 on the night, including 4-of-13 behind the arc. And the team committed 28 fouls, allowing the Lakers to attempt 31 free throws.

Those issues are tough to overcome against any team. Against the defending champions, there's little chance of overcoming it.

Considering the Bulls are playing at home the night after a road game, this type of loss isn't as crushing as it could be. After winning three straight games, however, it's a reminder to a young team that there's still plenty of work to be done.

     

What's Next?

The Lakers continue their seven-game road trip in Cleveland on Monday as James faces the Cavaliers for the first time this season at 8 p.m. ET. That's followed by a matchup between two of the best teams in the league Wednesday as L.A. continues east to take on the Philadelphia 76ers at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Chicago will remain home for a Monday night showdown against the Boston Celtics at 9 p.m. ET before a quick trip to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.