Here is what you need to know before the Lakers host the Chicago Bulls.
1) We could see a new opening group
Sunday’s game against Cleveland went just about as unexpectedly as possible. Not only did the Lakers fall to the Cavaliers — who lost 12 straight entering the night — they were overwhelmed from the start.
The Lakers fell behind by 15 in the first quarter, and while they worked their way back into the game, they were too deep into that hole to ever regain the lead.
Coach Luke Walton said that he is considering changing his starting lineup, which makes sense given that the Lakers have been off to some poor starts since LeBron James went down with a groin injury.
And L.A. has no time to waste. After winning just three of its first 10 games without James, the Lakers have fallen a half-game behind Utah for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
“Sloppy turnovers, not boxing out guys, giving up open 3s. Just letting people get comfortable.
“Especially on our home court, we can’t do that.” – Lonzo Ballhttps://t.co/nD7e27YceG
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 15, 2019
2) Offense wanted
The Lakers’ biggest issue without James has been their offense, which shot just 39.6 percent from the field and 20.6 on 3-pointers against Cleveland.
It’s been especially frustrating considering the Lakers have been elite on the defensive side — ranking second over the last 10 games — but excruciating on offense, ranking last.
The Lakers’ shooters have turned icy all at once. During this stretch without James, they rank last in both 3-point percentage (29.2) and free throw percentage (65.0).
The purple and gold need someone to thaw out. Keep an eye on Kyle Kuzma, who rode an 18-point fourth quarter to a 29-point performance against the Cavaliers.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 14, 2019
3) Lakers must take care of business
After that unexpected loss to Cleveland, let’s see if the Lakers will take care of a similarly struggling Chicago squad.
Having lost seven straight, the Bulls own the league’s second-worst record and rank last on the offensive side of the floor.
But Chicago also has some young talent that could give the Lakers trouble. Zach LaVine is a top-15 scorer at 23.6 points per game. Lauri Markkanen is a dangerous stretch big. Kris Dunn has been an assist machine lately.
By now, the Lakers should know better than to bring anything less than full effort, even against a team at the bottom of the standings.
Lakers: LeBron James (strained left groin) and Rajon Rondo (right ring finger surgery) are out. Isaac Bonga, Alex Caruso and Johnathan Williams are on G League assignment.
Bulls: Denzel Valentine (left ankle surgery) is out.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet in L.A. NBA TV nationally.
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California
Source: Los Angeles Lakers