Randle, Lakers rally past Bulls
CHICAGO -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle remembered feeling upset with himself the last time he played against Taj Gibson and the Chicago Bulls.
On Wednesday night, Randle was determined not to feel that way again.
“I feel like my team feeds off my energy,” Randle said. “Last time we played them, I kind of let him do whatever he wanted. It was important for me to come out and make a statement and let my team know tonight’s not the night. We were going to be tough, we were going to fight, and we’re not backing down.”
Randle scored 13 points and matched a career high with 20 rebounds, and the Lakers rallied for a 96-90 win over the Bulls. Nine of Randle’s 20 rebounds were on the offensive glass.
Guards Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams scored 18 points apiece off the bench to lead the Lakers. Los Angeles (10-10) earned its second win in the past three games despite the absence of injured guards D‘Angelo Russell and Nick Young.
“Our guys have proven that, when their backs are against the wall, they can step up for a challenge,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “They did it tonight. That’s a great win against a very good team.”
Meanwhile, the Bulls vowed to regroup after a narrow loss on their home court. Chicago (10-7) led by 14 points in the first half but could not close out the Lakers in the final two minutes.
Guard Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 22 points, but he fired an air ball on a 3-point attempt that would have tied the score at 93 with 15 seconds to go. Butler hit just 4 of 18 shots -- 1 of 6 from beyond the arc.
“I missed a lot of shots,” Butler said. “I did see double-teams from them. It was just one of those nights.”
Gibson scored 11 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to notch his sixth double-double of the season. He struggled to keep pace as Randle dominated the boards on both ends of the court.
Walton said he was proud of Randle, who played 31 minutes despite a hip pointer that sidelined him for several games last week.
”I love the accountability he wants,“ Walton said. ”Not only to say you want it, but then to go out and get 20 rebounds and back it up is impressive.
“This was the level he’s been playing at before he got hurt. This is kind of what we’re starting to expect out of Julius because he’s done it enough nights now that we think he can do it on any given night.”
Los Angeles seized a 90-87 lead with 1:51 to go in the fourth quarter after back-to-back baskets by Clarkson. A 3-pointer by Butler evened the score at 90-90 with 1:30 remaining.
Randle put the Lakers on top 92-90 with a spin move and a layup with 45.1 seconds to go. Williams made one of two free throws to make it 93-90 with 20.1 seconds remaining.
The Lakers padded their lead after Butler’s air ball on the next possession.
Los Angeles erased a 14-point deficit in the first half to even the score at 47-47 at halftime. Chicago missed its first eight shots from beyond the arc.
Bulls guard Dwyane Wade provided a pair of early highlights as he drove past Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. for easy layups. Wade fooled Nance with a spin move in the paint for one basket, and he crossed in front of the 6-foot-9 defender before driving to the rim for another score.
“Their team found a way to play better than us,” Wade said. “It’s just one of those games in a long season. No excuses. We have to find a way to win these games.”
Bulls center Robin Lopez set a career high with eight blocked shots.
NOTES: Lakers G Nick Young did not play because of a strained right calf that he suffered Tuesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. Young, 31, is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. He is averaging 13.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. ... Bulls G Doug McDermott missed his seventh consecutive game as he remains in the league’s concussion protocol. McDermott was injured Nov. 12 when he was knocked off balance and fell hard on his face. ... Lakers G Jose Calderon started his sixth straight game in place of G D‘Angelo Russell, who is out as he recovers from left knee soreness. ... Bulls G Dwyane Wade started one day after he had a tooth extracted. The 34-year-old has missed only one game in his first season in Chicago. ... Lakers G Brandon Ingram made his third start.