The Chicago Bulls showed just how better they are than the Los Angeles Lakers, winning 113-93 with a big night from Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, although most of the difference was made by their excellent bench unit, while Kobe Bryant was mostly busy reminiscing with old teammates and resting his old bones a little bit more.
The Bryant-effect in the form of not playing has worn off. After stunning the Golden State Warriors came the difficult challenge of playing on the road against the Chicago Bulls. Despite the success of the Lakers against Eastern conference teams, a focused Bulls team with a bit of rest and an almost full rotation is simply too much for them, especially when Nick Young can’t hit from anywhere. The Lakers gave up on Young and rolled with their starting lineup, which didn’t do much better against a team in a completely different class.
Pau Gasol, after spending some time before the game with Bryant and talking about winning championships, went on to show he’s on a team that can win one itself. He scored 23 points to go with 13 rebounds as the Bulls kept building a lead until finally breaking free and away in the fourth quarter. Jimmy Butler went back to his dominant ways with 21 points while Derrick Rose kept his impressive scoring streak going with 20 points and 6 assists, showcasing that this comeback attempt is on a while different level. He’s staying healthy and playing like the All-Star he used to be, getting close to his peak.
The best part of the Bulls as it is on many nights was the bench. Their depth, especially when compared to what the Lakers have from the mess Byron Scott has done to his rotations, is incredible. Taj Gibson scored 9 points with 7 rebounds, 5 on offense. Nikola Mirotic scored 13 points in 14 minutes. Aaron Brooks added 13 himself with 6 assists. During their minutes along with Butler (who doesn’t mind not resting at all) and E’Twaun Moore, the Bulls carved their way towards a fifth consecutive win and a very happy Christmas.