Even with their poor record coming into tonight’s game, the Los Angeles Lakers have a way of bringing out their opponents best performances, particularly with their defensive struggles this season.
It was more of the same as the Bulls added to the Lakers’ woes, defeating them 95-83.
The Lakers (17-24) were held to 5-of-19 shooting (26.3 percent) in the fourth period and was outscored 26-14 in the process after entering the period tied at 69.
Kirk Hinrich scored a season-high 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including connecting on three of his four three-point attempts. He also contributed eight assists and seven rebounds. Marco Belinelli scored 15 off the bench and Joakim Noah pulled down 13 boards and blocked a season-high six shots.
“Hinrich has really played well all year, in terms of running the team and his defense is always outstanding,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I felt it was a matter of time before he starts knocking shots down. He got into a good rhythm tonight, but he’s played well for us all season long.”
Hinrich, never one to look for his offense, was able to exploit Steve Nash on the pick and roll consistently in the second half, scoring 15 of his total and going 7-of-8 from the field.
“In the second half, we ran a lot of [pick and rolls] and we had success,” Hinrich said. “We just kind of stuck with it. It just seemed like every time I came off, I had a good look, I was in rhythm and I was just letting them go. My thing was that we were able to keep them out of transition. In the fourth quarter, we were able to rebound the ball and that proved to be the difference.
“[Offense] has kind of been an afterthought for me all year,” he continued. “I’m just trying to run the team, do my job, and I got a few more looks than I normally would tonight on the pick and roll and I was able to come off clean and let it go.”
Jimmy Butler started his second game in place of the injured Luol Deng, scored 10 points, collected eight rebounds and was able to harass Lakers’ Kobe Bryant into 7-of-22 shooting.
“Jimmy was huge,” Noah said. “Defensively, I just think that it’s great for him. He’s making a name for himself. He’s proving that not only is he a great defensive player, but he’s showing his athleticism. it just makes us that much tougher to know that we have guys like that we can rely on.”
Despite the win, the Bulls (24-16) were outrebounded 50-40.
Steve Nash’s 18 and Bryant’s 16 led Los Angeles.
The Bulls will host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.
“The road for us is not going to get any easier,” Thibodeau said. “I don’t want our guys to exhale and start feeling good. This road is going to be a tough road and we gotta keep battling, concentrate on the improvement, be ready for the next game –Detroit is playing well. But there are a lot of areas we can improve upon.”