LOS ANGELES – It was the same tune for the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon as they suffered their fifth consecutive home loss in a 92-86 defeat to the Chicago Bulls.
Chicago began the third quarter on an 11-2 to run to push their lead to a game-high 15 point advantage. Los Angeles did not get any closer than nine points in the quarter as the Bulls received a combined 15 points from Kirk Hinrich and Joakim Noah.
The Lakers made their run in the fourth quarter as they used a 8-2 spurt late to get as close as four points with 48 seconds remaining in the game after a dunk by Wesley Johnson. On the next possession they forced a missed shot by Chicago, but any hope of a comeback was crushed as the Lakers committed their 18th turnover of the game on a pass from Steve Blake to Chris Kaman.
“It’s part of the game,” Kaman said of the turnover in the final minute of the game. “Late in the game, guys want to switch on that. There was a little bit of a hole there, and right or wrong, it happens. It’s part of basketball: you’re not going to make very shot, you’re not going to make very play and make every pass.
“Ultimately, Steve’s a great player and he does a great job for us. It was one play, and it happened to be at the (most) important time of the game, at the end there.”
As for the game itself, Kaman felt it was a tale of two halves for the Lakers.
“I thought we played a much better second half,” Kaman, said who had his best performance of the season as he recorded a double-double of a season-high 27 points and 10 rebounds. “The first quarter kind of hurt us we (just) got off to a tough start.”
Although Los Angeles suffered their eighth loss in the last 10 games, head coach Mike D’Antoni was satisfied with his team’s overall defensive effort on Sunday.
“They hit a lot of shots and played well,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t think we got into them for whatever reason to start the game. Once they got into them I though our defense in the second quarter and the fourth quarter especially and even the third quarter was good. Defensively you look at points in the paint, second-chance points, and fast break points we have cured the problem for now. So we are going to keep working at it and get better at it.’
In the second half of the game, Los Angeles’ defense stiffened up as they forced Chicago to shot just 34 percent from the field and commit 10 turnovers.
As for the beginning of the game it was a slow start for the Lakers out of the gate as they missed their first six shot attempts and fell behind 10-0. The Bulls’ defense held Los Angeles scoreless until a made two-foot jumper by Robert Sacre a little more than four minutes into the game.
Behind 12 points from forward Taj Gibson and 58 percent team shooting, Chicago extended their lead to as much as 13 points on route to 34-point opening quarter. As for Los Angeles, Kaman came off the bench to score eight points of his 27 points in the first quarter.
The Laker closed the gap in the second quarter as they used a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to just three points at 42-39. Despite shooting 38 percent from the field in the quarter, the Bull held on their lead as they went into halftime leading 52-46.
Although Los Angeles played better all around in the second quarter, they committed six of their 11 first half turnovers which made it difficult for them to complete erase the deficit.
Nash Injured Again
In his third game back from his back injury, Nash left the contest in the third quarter after he bumped knees three minutes into second half. He attempted to play through it but to no avail as he left four minutes after the initial injury occurred due to nerve irritation in his left leg.
“It just got me right on the nerve” said Nash, who had eight points, two assists, and two rebounds in 22 minutes played. “It’s just all part of the process. It’s just a short little setback and hopefully this I will be right back out (there).
Nash also added that he pulled himself out of the game due to precautionary reasons, although he thought he could play through it.
“It was just getting worse lately,” Nash said. “I wanted to play especially when we are losing you want to try (to) fight through it. I have been through that before and I know where it goes, so I didn’t want to risk it. I think it was the smart decision to come out.”
After the game, D’Antoni seemed confident that Nash will check be good for Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz.
“I think he will be okay on Tuesday,” D’Antoni said. “It was just a freak bumping of knees and his back started to tighten up a little bit. We’ll see how it goes.”
D’Antoni stated that Nash’s back was an issue only because it was tightening up as he was overcompensating for the injury to his left leg.
The 40-year-old had made his return to the court on Feb. 4 against the Minnesota Timberwolves as he had been out since Nov. 10 due to nerve root irritation in his lower back. Since returning to the team, Nash had stated that his body felt good as evident by his 19-point and five-assist effort in Friday’s win 112-98 over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The injury to Nash is another blow to the Lakers roster as they are already without Nick Young (leg), Pau Gasol (groin), Jodie Meeks (ankle), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Kobe Bryant (leg),. With Nash out, the Lakers will rely heavily on Kendall Marshall, who had second straight double digit assist game, and Steve Blake to handle the point guard duties.
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