Chicago Bulls vs Los Angeles Lakers

 

The Chicago Bulls face a daunting task in Friday’s road meeting with the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. It was laser focus for the Lakers ever since they suffered a home loss to Portland. They went on a four-game road winning streak before dropping their first game back home to the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Bulls are coming off a 128-124 road loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Bulls stopped short of third-straight win

The Bulls were building towards a nice run with back-to-wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks, two Western Conference playoff teams a season ago.But that run was halted on the road by the Sacramento Kings.

It was a tough loss considering Coby White exploded for a team-high 36 points to go along with Zach LaVine’s 32 points. If you told me the pair would combine for 68 points, I would have thought they’d be the ones coming out of that game as the victors. Yet, even with a career-high effort from White, it still wasn’t enough to overcome the defensive struggles for the Bulls in the 128-124 loss.

 

The team currently ranks in the bottom-half of the league in defensive efficiency this season. Those struggles will surely be put to the test in a head-to-head meeting with the Lakers. LeBron James is still arguably the best player on the planet, and Anthony Davis isn’t too far behind. That dynamic duo might be the best thing since peanut butter and jelly. Slowing them down is going to be a problem for the Bulls’ second-worst scoring defense.

The only hope for Chicago lies on the offensive end of the floor. LaVine is going to handle his business as usual, but the team could certainly use another breakout performance from White to make up for the absence of Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls have seemingly turned a corner on offense with the team averaging 115 points per game, but they’ll be running into a Lakers team with the size and athleticism to potentially shut them down.

Lakers home skid continues

Would you believe the Lakers have lost their last two consecutive home games?That’s exactly the pickle the defending champions find themselves in after Thursday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Their second straight home loss moved their overall record at the STAPLES Center this season to 2-3. It could be a third straight loss on Friday if they aren’t careful.

The Bulls have been a tricky team this season, and you can rest assured they’ll come into this game confident after knocking off the Trail Blazers and Mavericks in previous games. Of course, they’re expected to lose, but this game presents them with a unique opportunity to let it all fly. The Lakers need to be aware of that danger and snuff it out immediately. They need to deliver a more physical defensive performance after struggling against the Spurs.

James and Davis have the potential to lock in whenever their heart is set on it. This might be one of those games considering how their run-in with San Antonio went.

The Bulls don’t have much to offer in the way of defense. Opposing teams are averaging 55.4 percent shooting from two-pointer against them. The driving lane should be freer than a landing strip in this game. That could mean an entire night of feasting at the basket for James and Davis.