Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls (-1, 194.5)
The Los Angeles Lakers attempt to end a five-game road losing streak when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Monday. It has been nearly six years since Los Angeles experienced such a poor road stretch and the Lakers are a paltry 5-13 overall away from home. Chicago had won three consecutive outings before falling in overtime to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. Ironically, the Bulls are just 11-11 at home compared to a 12-5 road mark.
Chicago is a game behind the first-place Indiana Pacers in the Central Division. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was mighty unhappy about the loss to Memphis. “You name it,” Thibodeau said. “No defense, turnovers, poor execution, floor balance. One thing led to another.” Los Angeles has lost eight of 10 games and the frustration level was boiling after Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors. Center Dwight Howard was ejected and point guard Steve Nash criticized the lack of preparation. “I didn’t feel like we were ready to play,” Nash said. “We cut too many corners at too many different times in the game and had too big a hole to climb out of. We’re just not finding any consistent level out of our group.”
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE LAKERS (17-23): Kobe Bryant scored 26 points against Toronto for his 24th consecutive game with 20 or more points but made just 10 of 32 shots. “My legs are a little tired,” Bryant said afterwards. “My shots are just short. That’s on me. I’ll take this loss on me, gladly. There were a lot of easy shots, a lot of them, that I should have put down. My offense was sub-par in terms of missing easy shots.” Forward Pau Gasol scored a season-best 25 points in his second outing since returning from a concussion. His only other 20-point contest came in the season-opening loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
ABOUT THE BULLS (23-16): Second-year forward Jimmy Butler excelled in his first career start in the loss to Memphis. Butler was in the lineup due to the absence of injured starter Luol Deng (hamstring) and played more than 47 minutes while posting career highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds. He also delivered a solid contribution – 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting – in Friday’s road victory in Boston. Interestingly, center Joakim Noah didn’t play a single minute in the fourth quarter or overtime of the loss. “That’s just a coaching decision,” was Thibodeau’s answer.
* Lakers are 1-7 ATS in their last eight Monday games.
* Bulls are 1-5 ATS in their last six vs. NBA Pacific foes.
* Under is 5-1 in Lakers’ last six overall.
* Under is 4-1 in Bulls’ last five vs. NBA Pacific opponents.
1. Chicago has won the last two meetings after a stretch in which Los Angeles won seven of eight games.
2. Lakers F Earl Clark had 14 points and a season-high 14 rebounds in the loss to the Raptors.
3. Bulls C Carlos Boozer is averaging 21.4 points and 13.8 rebounds over the last five games.