The Los Angeles Lakers have figured out how to win without Lonzo Ball.
The Lakers used a series of late runs to down the Chicago Bulls, 108-103, at the United Center on Friday night, their fourth straight victory without their star rookie. Brandon Ingram scored 25 points for Los Angeles, which has been without Ball for its last six games since he sprained his left knee on Jan. 13.
Despite Ball’s absence, the Lakers were able to overcome a hot 3-point shooting Bulls squad that rallied from two double-digit deficits. Chicago used the hot hand from outside to go on a 16-1 run in the fourth quarter as Nikola Mirotic and Denzel Valentine each hit a pair of triples to put their team ahead 92-90. Mirotic, who scored 18 points, and Valentine, who had 16, each made four 3-pointers. The Bulls made 17 of 36 from behind the arc.
But Julius Randle’s three-point play with 2:03 left put the Lakers ahead for good. Ingram added four straight points as Los Angeles took a 103-97 lead and Jordan Clarkson made four straight free throws in the final 21 seconds to hold off Chicago. Clarkson scored 19 points off the bench for the Lakers, who are 4-8 this season without Ball.
Ball practiced on Thursday for the first time since he sustained his injury and will travel with the team throughout a five-game road trip it opened on Friday. But Lakers coach Luke Walton said Ball remains limited in practice and the team will be cautious with its young star.
Los Angeles looked as if it may pull away for good when it used an 11-0 run late in the third quarter to take a 79-68 lead. But Mirotic, Valentine, Bobby Portis and the bench helped Chicago rally. Portis had 16 points and the Bulls finished with a 60-41 edge in bench scoring.
Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen both struggled from the field in the loss. The pair combined to make 6 of 27 tries. Markkanen had 11 points and LaVine finished with 10 for Chicago, which shot 35 percent in the first quarter and trailed 32-25.
—Field Level Media