LOS ANGELES – In a difficult five-game stretch against Western Conference teams, this figured to be the best shot at a victory.
The Bulls were facing a Lakers squad without superstar LeBron James, who continues to rehab a groin injury suffered on Christmas night. On top of that, their opponents were coming off a loss to a team that’s actually worse than the Bulls – the nine-win Cavaliers on Sunday.
All figured to offer hope for Jim Boylen’s team to finally pick up a win in the 2019 calendar year on the 15th day of the month.
Things played out as planned for about 36 minutes as the Bulls stayed within striking distance, thanks in part to another strong performance by Jabari Parker. Yet they couldn’t keep it up the whole time, and a bad end to the third quarter and an uneven fourth quarter led to an eighth straight defeat as the Lakers pulled out a 107-100 win.
It’s the closest loss for the Bulls this new year, but it’s little consolation as the team falls to 10-34 on the season, remaining just one game ahead of Cleveland for the worst record in the league.
For a second-straight night, Parker saw minutes off the bench and led the Bulls with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He provided one of the better highlights of the road trip with a second quarter baseline slam over Josh Hart and Svi Mykhailiuk to give the Bulls a brief lead.
The Bulls were close till the end of the third when the Lakers built an eight-point lead as Lonzo Ball (game-high 19 points) hit a three-pointer with 18 seconds left to make it 76-68. A 14-0 run early in the fourth quarter helped Los Angeles build their advantage to 17 points with 2:46 to go.
Still the Bulls wouldn’t go away and shaved the lead down to five points on a Ryan Arcidiacono three-pointer with 35 seconds left. That’s as close as they would get down the stretch as another game in 2019 produced a familiar letdown for Boylen’s team.