• The Lakers overcame terrible stretches to defeat the Bulls 108-103 Friday for their fourth consecutive win.

    Los Angeles outplayed the Bulls for the bulk of Friday’s contest, taking large leads multiple times and then allowing Chicago right back in. The first such stretch occurred in the first quarter when the Lakers opened a 32-17 run on the merit of Brook Lopez’s performance.

    Lopez was clearly motivated by the matchup with his brother Robin, coming out aggressive and active from the onset. He set a physical tone with pivotal plays including a reverse dunk and multiple defensive highlights in the first quarter alone. He finished the period with nine points, three rebounds, one assist and two blocks. The Bulls went on an 8-0 run after he exited, bringing the game to within 32-25.

    The second quarter was much of the same as the Lakers fought hard to build a 52-39 lead, only to allow the Bulls to finish the quarter with a series of runs (9-2 was the largest), narrowing the lead to 62-57 at the half. One element that allowed Chicago to stay in the game was a tremendous disparity from the 3-point line where they converted 9-of-18 compared to 4-of-13 for the Lakers.

    After allowing the Bulls to tie the game at 68, the Lakers went on an 11-0 run , eventually ending the third with a twelve-point advantage — the game was far from over.

    Los Angeles didn’t make a field goal from 10:38 remaining until the 4:36 mark of the fourth quarter, getting outscored 16-1 and allowing the Bulls to take a 92-90 run, putting the outcome of the game in peril.

    At that point, Brandon Ingram took over the game, hitting several important shots and creating opportunities for his teammates. In a game of runs, the Lakers had the last laugh, streaking from a tie game at 96 to a 107-100 advantage to hold on for the win. Los Angeles even managed to knock down 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

    Ingram finished with 25 points, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, and a game-high plus-22 rating while making 10-of-18 from the field. He helped the Lakers execute down the stretch and win a game that they might have lost earlier in the season.

    Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson continued their strong play of late as well. Randle accumulated 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal while Clarkson tallied 19 points, two rebounds and four assists.

    One of the keys to victory was the aforementioned Lopez, who clearly won the battle of the Lopez twins. He accrued 17 points, six rebounds, one assist and two blocks while making 7-of-13 from the floor. He was much more aggressive than usual, playing in the post and scoring only three of his points from behind the arc. It might behoove the Lakers to post a picture of Robin in Brook’s locker before every game as this was a dominant performance in only 20 minutes.

    Robin Lopez only contributed eight points, four rebounds, one assist and one block.

    The Bulls got spirited performances from several of their bench players to keep this game close and pick up the slack for their lackluster starters. Included in that list were Nikola Mirotic (18 points, three assists, four rebounds and two blocks), Bobby Portis, whom the Laker reserves could not match physically (16 points, nine rebounds and plus-19 rating), and Denzel Valentine (16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and one block).

    Rookie sensation Lauri Markkanen contributed 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks but struggled from the field to the tune of 3-of-10 shooting.

    The Lakers won this game with maturity, hard-nosed defense, execution and made free throws; demonstrating growth that will excite their fan base and raise expectations going forward. The team is clearly bonding and is having fun as is evident with their social media comments regarding Kyle Kuzma’s jacket, forcing him to wear it during his post-game interview and Ingram referencing it in his interview as well. They are enjoying each other’s company and most importantly, they are enjoying winning.

    Key Stats and Observations

    • The Bulls had a tremendous advantage from the 3-point line converting 17-of-36 (47.2 percent) vs. 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) for the Lakers. That accounts for a 36-point advantage for Chicago that the Lakers were able to overcome.
    • Los Angeles was outrebounded in the game, particularly on the offensive glass where Chicago held a 16-10 edge, 53-48 overall.
    • The Lakers once again did a great job of not turning the ball over with only nine miscues compared to 14 for the Bulls.
    • Los Angeles was able to take advantage of the turnover disparity, and their ability to push the ball and translate it to a 33-11 advantage in fast break points.
    • The Lakers relied on one of their season-long strengths in outscoring the Bulls 52-30 in the paint.
    • For once free throw percentage was in the Lakers favor — their ability to knock down their free throws, making 21-of-28 (75.0 percent) from the line vs. 16-of-24 for the Bulls (66.7 percent) was vital in swinging the game in the Lakers’ direction.

    Up Next

    The Lakers head north of the border to take on the Raptors (32-15) on Sunday. Toronto is coming off a tough 97-93 loss to Utah on Friday night.

    The strength of the Raptors is their backcourt composed of Kyle Lowry and All-Star starter DeMar DeRozan. The latter is a Los Angeles native who is having a career-year averaging 24.7 points 4.1 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

    Los Angeles will be looking to win five games in a row for the first time all year, their ninth out of eleven and fourth in a row without Lonzo Ball.

Fantasy News

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    C, Atlanta Hawks

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    SG, Denver Nuggets

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    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

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    SG, Atlanta Hawks

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    Carter shot 35.2 percent from the floor, the second worst mark in his career, while he garnered a career-low 14.6 minutes per game. None of that should hurt his legacy as an eight-time All-Star and fan favorite. When Carter made his final career basket on March 12, his smile seemed to foreshadow an eventual retirement which came in late June. Carter averaged 16.7 points over his career but twice ended a season with an average of 27 points or greater.

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    G-F, Atlanta Hawks

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