To give new readers a glimpse of my style and to give this new site an early push, I am re-publishing articles from my previous sports blog. Here is my post-game analysis of the Lakers-Bulls game:
The Chicago Bulls have not beaten the Los Angeles Lakers since December 19, 2006. Tonight, the Bulls bucked that trend by defeating the Lakers 88-84. If you missed the action, let me give you a quick recap.
Three Quarters of a Game
If you take out a dreadful second quarter (which you could never actually do), the Lakers outscored the Bulls 74-64. The Lakers only mustered 10 points in the second after starting so strongly in the first quarter. While I credit the lopsided second quarter to the Bulls finding their stroke from the field, part of the blame also goes to the Lakers’ offensive approach. In the first quarter, the Lakers got out to a big lead by running the offense through Pau Gasol, who outplayed Joakim Noah early. Gasol shot 5-for-7 (10 points) in the first quarter and had 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 blocked shot. But in the second quarter, Pau was pretty much non-existent. All it took was one quarter–twelve minutes–of lackluster basketball and the Lakers started their road trip (I don’t count an “away” game at Staples Center) off on the wrong foot.
M-V-P Chants in Chicago
After a slow start, Derrick Rose heated up and, to this minute, has probably not cooled off. In the first quarter, Rose was throwing up bricks left and right (2-for-8 from the field). After that, however, Rose was unstoppable. The star point guard dominated the second quarter by using his tenacious dribble penetration to get to the rim and make layups and draw multiple defenders and kick the ball out to three-point shooters. On numerous possessions, he demonstrated his great court vision by firing dazzling passes to cutters and spot-up shooters that the defense were not aware of.
In the third quarter, Rose showed off his new and improved three-point shot. Rose hit three three-balls in the game, giving him 32 on the season; interestingly, Rose hit 32 three-pointers in his first two NBA seasons combined.
But most impressively, Rose hit clutch shots down the stretch which had the Chicago fans on their feet chanting “M-V-P!” whenever he touched the ball. Whether he split a double team to get to the rim or threw up a step back jumper with the shot clock running down, Rose made the big plays when his team needed them most (when the Lakers made their late run).
No Answer Down Low
Don’t let Carlos Boozer’s 10 points fool you; the Lakers had trouble with the Bulls’ big guy down low. Sure, Boozer wasn’t raining buckets on the Lakers, but his low-post presence/threat caused a big mismatch that the Bulls exploited ad nauseum. Once the Bulls figured out that running the offense through Boozer would be the difference in the game–they did this in the second quarter–it was all over. Whenever the Lakers sent a double-down defender to help, Boozer, a great passing big man, would fire a pass to a spot-up three-point shooter (Rose on multiple occasions) or make a nice pass that would lead to an open shooter two passes later. This really was the difference in the game, despite how dominant Rose was. In summary, the Lakers need Andrew Bynum back.