With no Derrick Rose and no Kobe Bryant, the Bulls' game against the Lakers on MLK Day was taken off national television. And as the game turned into an excruciating slop fest in the second half, it looked like it was for good reason. But things got rather entertaining down the stretch thanks to D.J. Augustin, and a Taj Gibson layup at the buzzer gave the Bulls a 102-100 overtime victory.
Augustin continues to be a revelation, finishing with a team-high 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting overall and 5-of-7 from three. Augustin got the bulk of the second-half minutes due to a hamstring injury to Kirk Hinrich, and time and time again, the backup point guard hit big shots when the Bulls really needed it in the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Bulls appeared to be in trouble late in the fourth quarter after a flurry of buckets by Pau Gasol put the Lakers up three, but Augustin's fourth trey of the night tied the game back up. After Joakim Noah stoned Gasol in the post, Noah found Jimmy Butler on a beautiful back cut to put the Bulls up two. The Bulls led by three when Noah committed a silly foul on Nick Young shooting a triple, and Young calmly buried all three free throws to tie the game.
In the overtime, the Bulls went down by five, but turned that around into a two-point lead thanks to two Gibson free throws and five consecutive points from Augustin. However, Young momentarily played hero again, burying an open jumper to tie the game before Gibson's game-winning layup off a nice inbound feed from Mike Dunleavy:
In addition to Augustin's big game, Noah put forth another monumental effort. Jo stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, 21 rebounds and six assists in 42 minutes, often taking advantage of Ryan Kelly down low. Butler too stuffed the box score, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. It made up for yet another dismal shooting effort for Butler, who shot 6-of-19 overall and 0-of-4 from three in his 50 minutes (he once again played the entire second half and overtime).
The Bulls shot just 38.2 percent from the field, but they made up for that by grabbing a whopping 19 offensive rebounds. Noah had seven of those, Butler had five and Gibson four. The Bulls also forced 22 turnovers, and in conjunction with the offensive rebounds, allowed them to take 19 more shots than the Lakers.
The game started off rather facepalmy, with the Bulls missing a bunch of bunnies against a generally bad Lakers defense. Soon enough, the Bulls started making those bunnies, with the first quarter basically turning into a layup line. The Bulls scored a whopping 24 points in the paint in the opening frame, and a bunch of those points were of the uncontested variety.
But while the Bulls' offense was rolling, their normally stout defense wasn't able to match. Jodie Meeks caught fire early, and Young followed suit off the bench. Young seemingly couldn't miss in the first half, and his 17 points in the opening half helped give the Lakers a 52-49 lead at the break. Young finished the game with 31 points on 11-of-23 shooting.
The third quarter was an absolute mess, with the Bulls racking up six turnovers and the Lakers five. Neither team could really buy a bucket either, so I'd rather just not speak about it anymore. The fourth quarter was ugly at first as well before Augustin went crazy.
The Bulls have now won eight of 10 and are back at .500 for the first time since they were 7-7 on Nov. 27. Some serious bum-slaying going on right now. Luol Deng and the Cavs are up next.