There are no moral victories in basketball, and the Bulls need real victories a lot more than moral ones anyway. Still, for a team that's been getting crushed every time it goes out and plays a decent team it was nice to see them compete all game with the Lakers.
They had their opportunities to win, and more so than anyone, it was Shannon Brown who may have sunk them when he gave the Lakers the lead by going on a personal 5 point run to start the fourth quarter when the Bulls were up by 3.
With the exception of a few bailout calls on Kobe, the refs really let them play tonight.
Joakim Noah went back to "I could be an all-star" Noah again. His FG% was terrible largely because of a lot of missed tips where he just got a hand on the ball, and his offensive rebounds were inflated for the same reason. However, he played excellent defense and forced so many changes of possession or kept balls alive that it was ridiculous. Just an excellent all around performance.
Derrick Rose looked dominant in parts of this game, but he faded down the stretch missing several layups and leaping to avoid contact on plays he could have easily drawn fouls with on several occasions. It was great to see him step up at points in this game and put the team on his back though. It was a game of flashes, but ultimately he fired up 22 shots to get up his 21 points which really isn't going to cut it. Of course, had he not been screwed over by the refs, he would have likely had 3-4 less official shot attempts and probably 6 more points.
Kirk Hinrich played a solid game overall, but when the Bulls were neck and neck with the Lakers still he missed a wide open three and turned the ball over on an attempted behind the back pass. Kobe posted him up all game long and enjoyed great success shooting over him whenever they were matched up.
Luol Deng frustrated me by not shooting any threes until garbage time and then hit 1 of 2. Hey Luol, do that when it counts. You're shooting near 50% from the 3 point line on the season. Why not do more of that? Overall, Deng still had a good game. He shot 50% from the field and poured in 21 points.
John Salmons sat out quite a bit with foul trouble, but it's still amazing he only got up five shots in 28 minutes. It's not amazing that he hit 1 of 5 including an 0-3 from the three point line though. We've seen a lot of that. Still, Salmons played some awfully nice defense on Kobe while they were matched up, and he got the screw job on a couple of his fouls.
It really felt like the Bulls lost this game during the brief stint Jannero Pargo played.
Taj Gibson was on the floor for all the Laker runs, but that wasn't a reflection on him, because he played hard and fairly well.
In the end, this season has been so depressing that just playing the Lakers to a game that went under double digits feels like a huge win. It's not. It's a loss. Bulls are now 2-11 in their last 13 games. Nice job putting out some effort, and it was a stretch to hope the Bulls could win this one, but in the end it still counts as a L.