Following their longest road trip of the season and a much-needed four-day break, the Chicago Bulls get back at it Wednesday night when they host the Los Angeles Lakers. The Bulls finished a six-game voyage at 4-2 after a 105-89 win in Philadelphia on Friday and now get to play nine of the next 12 at the United Center, where they are 4-1.
The Bulls enter the stretch brimming with confidence and planning to continue a rise toward the top of the Eastern Conference, where Friday’s opponent - the Cleveland Cavaliers - reign supreme. “When you have a team new together, once you get to that point where you realize you’re a good team, then you become a good team,” Dwyane Wade told reporters. “And I think on this trip, with the way we performed, we started to understand that we’re a good team and we can play with anyone in any building.” Wade sat out Chicago’s victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles midway through the trip but averaged 22.6 in the other five games. Los Angeles opened a four-game trip of their own with a whimper, falling 105-88 at New Orleans on Tuesday and losing guard Nick Young to an Achilles injury in the process.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles), CSN Chicago
ABOUT THE LAKERS (9-10): Young needed to be carried into the locker room after suffering his injury in the first quarter at New Orleans. The 10-year veteran, who entered the game averaging 14.1 points while shooting 41.8 percent from long range, will undergo an MRI exam in Chicago. The Lakers are already without starter D‘Angelo Russell (knee) and fellow point guards Jose Calderon and Jordan Clarkson combined to shoot 5-for-19 with four turnovers versus the Pelicans.
ABOUT THE BULLS (10-6): As Wade finds his footing with his new team, holdover Jimmy Butler is taking his game to new heights and fashioned a scoring average of 28.3 on the trip. That included a 40-point effort on 14-of-23 shooting at Los Angeles and Butler - like Wade - saw something special emerge on the road. “Something about this group of guys, we just always want to be around each other,” Butler told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “We realize we’re all we have whenever we step out onto the United Center floor or an away game. It’s us, it’s these coaches, it’s this organization.”
1. Chicago has won five straight meetings at home.
2. Lakers PF Julius Randle (hip pointer) returned Tuesday from a three-game absence and produced his fourth double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds).
3. Bulls F Doug McDermott (concussion) has missed six straight games but reportedly participated in non-contact drills Tuesday.
PREDICTION: Bulls 115, Lakers 97