Given the Bulls' bipolar nature and the fact that they lost to the Lakers last year at Staples Center, nothing was guaranteed Thursday night. But this iteration of the Lakers are a true abomination of a squad led by an incompetent boob, and the Bulls took care of business right from the start in a fun 114-91 beat down.
Fred Hoiberg opted to go with a new starting lineup in this game, inserting E'Twaun Moore over Tony Snell, who was left out of the rotation until garbage time. Moore slotted perfectly into the position considering he did a spot-on Snell imitation by bricking several wide open threes, but it mattered none as the Bulls still opened up a 17-point advantage after the first quarter and never looked back.
Jimmy Butler, on the night he was named an All-Star reserve, led the charge in the early going and throughout the night. He racked up eight points, three assists and three steals in the first quarter, even getting two steals and buckets on back-to-back possessions.
Butler finished the evening with 26 points, 10 assists (again tying a career high), five rebounds and four steals while shooting a stellar 11-of-17 from the field. He did a great job finding the open man all night and scored efficiently even without his customary free throw attempts. Maybe this was one of the reasons why he showed out?:
Yes, that's a "Jimmy Buckets" T-Shirt on Wahlberg. Maybe the Bulls can get him tickets to every game on this road trip?
Pau Gasol, who wasn't picked as an All-Star reserve, also enjoyed an excellent game with 21 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Gasol shared a nice moment with Kobe Bryant before tip-off, and then immediately schooled Kobe in the post at the outset:
Pau also hit Butler with multiple backdoor lobs, which work every game but worked multiple times in this one because the Lakers don't have a clue defensively.
Then there was Derrick Rose. The Bulls point guard enjoyed a stellar 16/7/5 performance on 7-of-11 shooting, with a couple ugly jumpers the only black marks on his tab. Rose made several magnificent passes, including this lob to Butler:
And this behind-the-back beauty to Moore:
Talk about Showtime.
This game was never really in doubt, although the Lakers made a faux rally early in the fourth quarter against a Bulls reserve unit that featured a whole lot of bad Doug McDermott (seriously, it was embarrassing). That forced one last stint for the starters, who easily put things away.
I'm not sure how much you can really take away from this one, because the Lakers are easily the worst team in the league. Still, it was great to see the Bulls handle a bad team right from the opening tip instead of dicking around most of the game and pulling it out late. Nice cupcake to start a long road trip, and the Blake Griffin-less Clippers are up next on Sunday.