With four seconds to play in the Staples Center Sunday, reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose uncorked a nine foot hook shot giving the Chicago Bulls the lead and ultimately victory over their hosts the Los Angeles Lakers by a final tally of 88-87. The Bulls point guard led his club with 22 points in the win while teammate Luol Deng added another 21 for the contest. Kobe Bryant even with a bad wrist knocked down a game high 28 points; however the team from Los Angeles without center Andrew Bynum, out due to a suspension from the Association did not have enough weapons to pull off the season opening win. Pau Gasol chipped in 14 points in the loss.
The Lakers no longer have the luxury of inserting Lamar Odom into the starting lineup when Bynum is unable to play; as they traded last season’s NBA Sixth Man Of The Year to the Dallas Mavericks earlier this month. Instead they inserted Josh McRoberts into the power forward slot and he did not live up to his predecessor’s standards; scoring just 6 points and 8 rebounds in 35 minutes of playing time. That was not going to do it against the Bulls who have Carlos Boozer at the four position; who had no problems against his opponent.
The two teams stayed closed to each other throughout the opening period. C.J. Watson connected on a 26 foot trey with 33 seconds to play giving the Bulls the edge at the quarter 22-20. Once again the contest remained tight until the closing seconds as Chicago scored the last six points of the quarter giving them a 56-49 advantage as they walked into the locker room at the half.
The Lakers would tie the score and take the lead at the mid-way point of the third courtesy of a Derek Fisher layup making it a 65-63 affair. The contest would go back and forth throughout the rest of the period until McRoberts slammed the rock through the cylinder with 22 seconds to play and Los Angeles was on top 69-68 at the conclusion of the quarter. The home-team appeared as if they were on the verge of running away with the game as they held an 80-70 lead with 4:13 left to play. However, Deng would come up big as his club chipped away at the deficit and would steal the pass that led to Rose’s winning shot.
The Bulls point guard had 22 points, 5 assists, 1 rebound and 1 block in the victory. Deng dropped 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists and 1 block while Boozer added 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal.
Bryant scored 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals for the game. Gasol contributed 14 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks while Steve Blake came off of the bench with 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Chicago travels up the coast to take on the Golden State Warriors on Monday while the Lakers will also head north as they face the Sacramento Kings on Monday.