Taj Gibson

Taj Gibson
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In a battle of clutch shots, Taj Gibson came out with his hand on top to give the Chicago Bulls a 102-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, making the Nick Young clutch shot earlier on redundant.

The two things in common for the Lakers and Bulls this year? Their best players sitting out injured. Derrick Rose is out possibly for the entire season. Kobe Bryant came back during the season before another injury took him off the court, and there seems to be a good chance he isn’t coming back while the Lakers are playing this badly.

The Bulls are at .500 for the first time since late November, which in the Eastern conference is almost like being championship contenders. But not really, not when their rotation is eight players deep and none of them are among the best in the NBA excluding Joakim Noah and possibly Jimmy Butler in a few years.

Nick Young almost ended up as the hero for the Lakers. He became their first 30-point scorer this season with 31 points (now the Nuggets are the only team without a 30-point scorer this season). He hit two free throws with 4.1 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime, tying things at 93-93.

He hit a baseline jumper while being guarded quite well with 6 seconds left in overtime, which seemed like it would send the game into second overtime, tying the game at 100-100.

It’s heartbreaking. We both fought hard today, but we felt like we were competing and was in it. That’s all we can ask for. I don’t think any of us wanted to do another overtime. But if we had to, we would have.

Taj Gibson (12 points on 3-of-11 from the field) wasn’t having the best of nights, surprisingly (because the Lakers are awful in defending the paint), but he saved his best for last. Mike Dunleavy inbounded a pass beneath the Lakers basket with 0.9 seconds left. Thee Bulls players dispersed away from the basket, leaving Gibson a clean lane to drive through. Manny Harris was guarding him from behind for some reason, allowing Gibson an easy layup that managed to beat the buzzer and win the game.

You don’t have a lot of time in that situation. It is a quick read. Dunleavy made a great play on it and Taj obviously. But we needed everyone to sell the play. We had good fortune on it. They always crack jokes on me in practice about trying to use my left and today I proved them wrong.

Joakim Noah had a big game with 16 points, 21 rebounds and 6 assists. It was quite a paint-battle with Pau Gasol who had 20 points and 19 rebounds, but the Lakers shooting 42.2% from the field and turning the ball over 21 times was a bit too much for them to overcome, not to mention missing out on the key defensive play.

The Lakers continue to shift between minor successes and the harsh reality of simply not being good enough to do anything substantial in the league, and having Nash and Bryant return soon isn’t going to change that. Things are a bit more optimistic for the Bulls, playing well enough (although not pretty) to remain in contention for a playoff spot and possibly even home court advantage.

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