Despite both teams missing their respective former MVPs, All Stars and team leaders, Monday night’s matchup between the Bulls and Lakers didn’t lack excitement.
Taj Gibson took a pass from Mike Dunleavy with 0.9 seconds left in overtime and laid it in to beat the buzzer, earning the Bulls a 102-100 victory after trailing 98-93 earlier in that extra period.
D.J. Augustin scored 27 points, Joakim Noah added 17 points, 21 rebounds and six assists and Jimmy Butler double-doubled with 13 points and 11 rebounds in the thrilling victory.
As was the case Saturday against the 76ers, the Bulls’ offense got off to an atrocious start. But after missing their first eight shots to open the game, the Bulls went to work inside and spread the wealth, too. Of their 31 points in the quarter, 24 came in the paint, led by Noah and Carlos Boozer, who each had six points apiece. Eight different players scored for the Bulls in the first, while Jodie Meeks’ nine points and Pau Gasol’s five kept the Lakers in the contest.
The high-octane second unit for the Lakers was in full gear to open the second quarter. Nick Young scored eight straight points to open the period as part of a 13-2 run that gave the Lakers a 39-34 lead just four minutes in.
The Bulls responded quickly with some of their own bench firepower, receiving 3-pointers from Augustin and Tony Snell to regain the lead. Young and Noah traded powerful dunks on back-to-back possessions late in the quarter, with the Lakers shooting better than 51 percent from the field before halftime to take a 52-49 lead.
The up-and-down pace and scoring came to a halt in the third quarter, as both teams struggled to shoot and take care of the ball. The Lakers took a 60-55 lead midway through the quarter after a Kendall Marshall 3-pointer and Ryan Kelly made free throws, but the Bulls responded behind Dunleavy’s shooting and Boozer’s work inside, eventually cutting the lead to three, 72-69, after three quarters.
Butler opened the final period with a pair of jump shots to give the Bulls a 73-72 lead. An Augustin steal and layup pushed the lead to three, causing Mike D’Antoni to call timeout. Out of the break, jumpers from Young, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre gave the Lakers the lead, but Noah responded later in the period by drawing a charge on Hill and, out of a timeout, scoring to tie the game at 82 apiece.
Gasol took over down the stretch, scoring six straight points to give the Lakers a 90-87 lead with under three minutes to play, their first since early in the quarter.
Then the Bulls scored five straight take the 92-90 lead, capped by a Butler reverse layup from Noah. And after Young missed a jumper D’Antoni instructed the Lakers not to intentionally foul with 27 seconds left. Young tripped Noah as he drove to the basket, and the Bulls’ reigning All Star hit one of two free throws.
But after switching on a pick, Noah fouled Young as he went to contest the 3-pointer. Young hit all three free throws with just 4.1 seconds left, forcing the extra period.
The teams traded 5-0 runs in overtime before Augustin’s layup with 90 seconds left gave the Bulls a 100-98 lead. Noah, as he did much of the overtime period, shut down Gasol in the post on back-to-back possessions. But as quick as Noah had gone from hero to near-goat, Augustin did the same, dribbling the ball out of bounds with 10.7 seconds left to give the Lakers one last shot.
Young hit a baseline jumper with six seconds remaining, and after an Augustin pass was deflected out of bounds under the basket, Thibodeau drew up a play for Gibson, who connected on just his third make of the game, which was executed perfectly for the win.