The Los Angeles Lakers continued their very public implosion on Monday night as the Chicago Bulls handed L.A. its sixth consecutive road loss. The defeat drops Kobe Bryant and company to a dismal 17-24 on the season, while the 24-16 Bulls continue to look like a viable playoff participant even with Derrick Rose sidelined.
These four lessons stood out during the 95-83 Chicago victory:
1. The Lakers are looking even older than they are
L.A. starts three players with at least 13 years each of NBA experience, and the mileage has taken its toll. Playing their second game in as many days, the Lakers couldn’t even come close to matching the Bulls’ energy, and even 34-year-old Rip Hamilton was running rings around them for long stretches.
The problem is compounded by the fact that young gun Dwight Howard plays at such a plodding pace. Howard has the strength to vacuum up any rebound he can reach, but the Bulls still racked up 14 offensive boards because they were hustling to the ball and the Lakers weren’t.
2. Officiating is going to be a huge factor in any Chicago playoff series
Multiple news outlets are reporting that the sale of the Sacramento Kings is all but complete, as an ownership group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is purchasing the team for a reported $340 million with the intention of relocating the Kings to Seattle for the 2013 season.
The franchise is expected to adopt the SuperSonics nickname, which was left behind when the city’s original NBA franchise relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. Key Arena will likely serve as the team’s temporary home while a new arena is constructed in the Sodo District.
Commissioner David Stern, whose reputation took a major hit during the Sonicsgate saga, has repeatedly stated that he wanted the NBA to return to Seattle before his retirement in 2014. It looks like that goal has finally been achieved, though there is one remaining loose end that needs to be tied up.
Chicago 22-15 at Boston 20 – 18
Result of last meeting: Chicago 100 – Boston 89
The Boston Celtics will be facing the Chicago Bulls tonight at TD garden. The two teams have met on two occasions this season with each team winning one game. Both teams have been playing well lately with the Celtics winning six of their last seven games and the Bulls winning seven of their last ten to pull within a half game of the Indiana Pacers for first place in the Central Division.
For the Celtics to beat a tough Bulls team tonight, the following will have to happen.
Minimize the impact of Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer in the post
The Bulls frontcourt led by Noah and Boozer is one of the best in the NBA. They dominated the Celtics when the two teams last met in December, with Noah posting a triple double and Boozer scoring 21 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.