Bulls aim to end their skid versus Lakers
The Chicago Bulls will try to avoid their longest losing streak in more than a year when they play the fourth game of a five-game road trip Tuesday at the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Bulls (10-33) have lost seven straight following a 110-102 loss at the Utah Jazz on Saturday. They haven't lost eight in a row since a 10-game skid from Nov. 19 to Dec. 6, 2017.
"We have to get that killer mentality," Bulls coach Jim Boylen told reporters following the most recent defeat.
The Lakers (23-21) are coming off a loss to the only NBA team that hasn't reached double figures in wins.
The Cleveland Cavaliers led nearly the whole game in a 101-95 win at Staples Center on Sunday night, which ended their 12-game losing streak.
Making things extra challenging for the Lakers has been the groin injury to LeBron James, who leads the team in scoring (27.3), rebounding (8.3) and assists (7.4). He has missed the past 10 games and won't play against the Bulls. Los Angeles is 3-7 since James was injured against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.
The absence of James has certainly slowed Los Angeles in some areas, but the Lakers haven't helped themselves either. One area is at the free throw line. The Lakers came into Sunday last in the NBA in free-throw shooting at 68.6 percent, and then shot 16-for-27 (59.3 percent) against the Cavaliers.
"We've got to play better. We've got to make shots, we've got to make free throws," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the loss. "I believe in this group and I believe this group will play better, and we'll start winning some games, but as a team we've got to step up and go out and take some of these games."
The Lakers have allowed at least 32 points in the first quarter of five of the past six games, prompting Walton to consider changes to the starting lineup.
"By the end of the games, we're doing a nice job of stabilizing our defense and getting the stops we need, but we can't just keeping giving up 30 points to start the games," Walton said. "We'll take a look at that and, possibly, make a change before Tuesday."
The Bulls have one of the youngest teams in the NBA, including a starting five that ranges in age from 19 to 24. Boylen said he plans to stick with the same lineup moving forward.
"I think there's some force-feeding going on," he said. "We've got to learn how to win."
The most veteran starter for the Bulls is point guard Zach LaVine, who leads Chicago at 23.6 points a game. LaVine, who played one year at UCLA, told reporters he's looking forward to returning to Los Angeles.
"Haven't played in L.A. in a while," he said. "I'm excited. Hopefully it's sunny out there."
LaVine could see time against former UCLA point guard, Lonzo Ball, the second overall draft pick in 2017. Chicago forward Lauri Markkanen was selected five spots behind Ball out of Arizona, another Pac-12 school.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 14, 2019