Tuesday night's game seemed almost tankable when it seemed like Taj Gibson was out, there would be a game the next night, and it's against the Lakers and all. But the Bulls hung with the defending champs despite some terrible shooting nights, and once again prove that even without Boozer, they're a better team than a season prior.
Rose and Noah are the stars of the Bulls and certainly showed up as such. Rose may have fizzled out a bit in the 4th (didn't hit a single FG), but his brilliance in the 3rd not only kept the Bulls close after weathering an early 2nd half blitz from the Lakers, but seemingly won over the Staples Center crowd. The Lakers have had a long-standing weakness against quick point guards, and Rose is superlative in that department, and was able to carve up any help the Lakers sent on his way to the rim. Unfortunately the impossible-looking shots he takes eventually do stop falling after a while (what, with them being impossible-looking and all), but Rose still had an efficient night in hitting two 3-pointers and attempting 9 free-throws.
Noah held Pau Gasol to a pedestrian night (as SBNation bro-site SSR notes, it was a rare instance in the young season where someone had the skillset to limit Pau), and the Bulls frontcourt dominated the offensive glass. Taj Gibson was amazing again, and it's not a platitude to say he was doing so playing through pain: you could see the foot troubling him on several occasions on his 40-minute night.
That's about it for the good. The Bulls offense didn't seem that off to me, just that their wings weren't making shots. Luol Deng started hot but had one FG from the 2nd quarter beyond. Bogans, Korver, Watson, and Brewer shot terribly, and what made Rose's stretch in the 3rd quarter even more remarkable was seeing the Lakers refuse to even acknowledge Bogans was on the court and sending that defender at Derrick. Meanwhile the similarly-roled players on the Lakers were white-hot from 3-point range (10-25 as a team as opposed to 4-20 for the Bulls) and repeatedly made the Bulls pay for the extra attention they gave to Bryant and Gasol.
But even so, it was not a game where the Bulls had to pack it in early, they were in it until the end and the major players played accordingly. We'll see if it effects them tonight in Phoenix, but credit to the Bulls for not needing to consider the percentages, hanging tough to the point where it made sense to challenge the champs at home.