James Hails Lakers' bench

Reserves earn praise after firing LA side to sixth straight win with fourth-period push

CHICAGO • Anthony Davis was suddenly leaping up in celebration, LeBron James was flexing through his sweatshirt and a look of joyful relief passed through the Los Angeles bench, as Dwight Howard screamed into a Chicago crowd with more than a few Lakers partisans.

For three quarters of their National Basketball Association (NBA) game at the United Centre on Tuesday night, the Lakers were miserable.

For the last period, though, they unleashed the power of their depth and finally beat the Bulls 118-112 despite an off day from Davis.

James led the team with his third triple-double in a row - 30 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. It was only the third time in his career that he has produced three consecutive triple-doubles after 2009 and 2017.

But it was a line-up of reserves that took them back into the game.

Troy Daniels, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Quinn Cook and Howard started the fourth quarter and took the Lakers on a 16-0 run to take a 96-93 lead after trailing by as many as 19 points in the first half.

In the final period, Kuzma made 11 of his 15 points while Howard, a menace in defence, poured in his entire game's output of six points. Cook's 17-point contribution was second only to James in the team.

The Lakers (6-1) secured their sixth consecutive win by going 3-0 on this road trip.

James said: "For us to come on a three-game road trip and take care of business means a lot. For us to come out 3-0, it's a good test for us. Our bench is going to be key. Our depth has been a good ingredient.

"They were great. Without them we don't get this win."

  • +11 

    Los Angeles Lakers' 38 points in the fourth quarter was 11 points above their 26.7 average in the first three periods (24, 24, 32) in Chicago.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel also praised his bench players.

"A.D. was in foul trouble. Bron was exhausted," he said. "Both of those guys needed to stay on the bench and other guys needed to step up, and they did."

Davis looks forward each year to playing in his home town, but did not put on much of a show early on. He missed seven of eight shots to start and could be seen hanging his head on the bench in frustration.

He returned late in the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

The Lakers, the NBA's top defensive team, captured their sixth straight meeting with Chicago, matching the club's longest active run against any rival.

The Bulls (2-6), paced by Zach LaVine's 26 points, led 65-48 at half-time and were up by as much as 18 in the third quarter before the fightback began.

Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma shooting over Chicago Bulls' Chandler Hutchison to score two of his 15 points in their NBA game at the United Centre on Tuesday. Los Angeles' 118-112 win was their third straight away victory. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

The Lakers outscored Chicago 38-19 in the fourth period and looked like the dominant team James hopes can finally reach the NBA Finals after missing the play-offs for six straight seasons.

But the four-time NBA Most Valuable Player insisted it is too early to think about the postseason.

"We can't think about the Finals even though that's our aspiration," he said. "We have small goals in mind and that's to be the best defensive team in the league every night.

"We took a step backwards in the first half but we made up for it in the second half by just locking them down. We have to be able to win in adverse situations."

They will play tomorrow against the Miami Heat, who were beaten 109-89 in Denver. Jamal Murray scored 21 points to lead six Nuggets in double figures while Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 16 points.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2019, with the headline 'James Hails Lakers' bench'. Print Edition | Subscribe