After an impressive win in the opener of their six-game road trip, the Bulls on Thursday night had a performance more in line with most of the circus trips in the post-Jordan era.
With the Bulls never mounting a serious threat after about the middle of the second quarter, the Lakers cruised to a 108-93 victory at Staples Center .
The Bulls (6-5) were led by Derrick Rose with 20 points on 9-for-20 shooting. John Salmons had 18 points (all in the first half), and Joakim Noah posted his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
The Lakers (9-3) were led by Pau Gasol -- back in action following a hamstring injury -- with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
With his 21 points, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for second place on the team's all-time scoring list. Bryant has 24,182 points to Abdul-Jabbar's 24,176.
Sometimes when you play an opponent is just as important as the opponent you play.
The Lakers were struggling a bit earlier in the week, so they were more than happy to welcome back center/forward Gasol for his first action of the season.
''I think tonight will be a big test for us with the Lakers' length,'' Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said before the game. ''They're big, they're long and they're athletic.''
Going into the game, Noah was averaging 12.1 points (56.3 percent shooting) and an NBA-best 12.4 rebounds in just 33 minutes -- and his solid play through the early part of the season already had opened some eyes.
''I think he's a little like Sam Lacey, who played with the Kansas City Kings with Nate Archibald,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Noah. ''He could run the court, wasn't really a power body. He was tall and angular and could really play the game.
''I admire the way [Noah's] playing, the way he's coming. His attitude this year has been tremendous.''
Despite registering the double-double, this effort by Noah was more of a struggle than most of his recent games. With Gasol and Andrew Bynum (both 7-footers) and 6-10 Lamar Odom often on the court together, the Lakers have more quality big players than most teams can deal with.
Gasol got off to a fast start, scoring 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting in the first quarter as the Lakers took a 25-19 lead. Following their best offensive game of the season in Tuesday's 101-87 victory at Sacramento , the Bulls again were back to struggling for points.
Salmons, coming off a strong game in his homecoming, played well again and pumped in 18 first-half points on 7-for-11 shooting. The problem was, no other Bulls could get much going offensively.
Rose on Wednesday had vowed to be more aggressive, but he was 0-for-5 (all jumpers) in the first quarter. He did get to the basket a couple times in the second quarter, but it wasn't nearly enough to avoid a 53-42 Bulls halftime deficit.
When you take away Salmons' shooting, the rest of the Bulls were 11-for-33 from the field.
In the third quarter, the Lakers extended their lead, getting it up to 20 points on three occasions before taking an 84-67 advantage into the fourth quarter.
After his hot start, Salmons was scoreless and played just six minutes in the third quarter. However, Rose did manage to get untracked and had 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting in the quarter.
The Bulls' offense was a little more productive in the third, but the defense allowed 31 points.
The Bulls never were able to mount a serious charge in the fourth quarter as they couldn't get enough stops or score consistently to mount a threat.
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