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Taj Gibson

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Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein, Getty Images

February 9, 2014 — 12:30 PM (PST)
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: ABC
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

The Lakers (18-32) play vs. Chicago Bulls (24-25)  in front of national audience broadcast on ABC. They come off a solid victory vs Philadelphia 76ers, 112-98. By the way, the actually allowed less than 100 points for the first time since their January 3rd victory vs. Utah Jazz.

Steve Nash looks back to normal for the time being, playing similar to how he played during his days at Phoenix. Nash definitely showed youth in his steps on his 40th birthday, scoring 19 points and dishing out 5 assists while dissecting the Philadelphia 76ers defense en route to a victory.

Without the services of the Lakers top 3 players, SG Kobe Bryant, C Pau Gasol, and F Nick Young, the duration of Nash playing at a high level seems very uncertain due to nerve issues he has tried to heal for the past year.

The Bulls come into today’s game vs. Lakers currently sitting in 5th place in Eastern Conference despite having a sub .500 record. After superstar PG Derrick Rose tore a meniscus in his knee, sidelining him most likely for the test of this season, and trading all-star SF Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Bulls seek to qualify for the playoffs and to make a run at the top free agents this off-season.

Furthermore, the Bulls will most likely be without the services of F Carlos Boozer today due to a strained left calf.

Without Boozer, All-Star C Joakin Noah will anchor the Bulls today. Noah, who averages 11.7 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 1.3 BPG, makes his name on the defensive end, being named on the NBA All-Defensive 1st team last season. His athleticism and energy on the defensive end clogs up driving lanes by covering a lot of ground in the paint.

Projected Starters

PG – Steve Nash / Kirk Hinrich [Advantage: Lakers]
SG – Steve Blake / Jimmy Butler [Advantage: Bulls]
SF – Wesley Johnson / Mike Dunleavy [Advantage: Bulls]
PF – Ryan Kelly / Taj Gibson [Advantage: Bulls]
C – Robert Sacre / Joakim Noah [Advantage: Bulls]

Notable Bench Players

Bulls: G Tony Snell, PG DJ Augustin, C Nazr Mohammed

Lakers: PG Kendall Marshall, C Chris Kaman, F Jordan Hill, F Shawne Williams

Bench Advantage: Even

Injury List

Bulls: Out-G Derrick Rose, Out-F Carlos Boozer

Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-SG Jodie Meeks, Out-G Xavier Henry, Out-PG Jordan Farmar, Out-G/F Nick Young, Out-C Pau Gasol

Keys for Lakers Victory

Rebounding: The Lakers absolutely have to limit the Bulls to one possession and not allow offensive rebounds in order to have a chance at winning this match up. The Bulls, who averages the NBA’s 6th best 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, used their big man, Noah, Boozer, and 6th man F Taj Gibson to grab 19 offensive rebounds vs. Lakers to win in their last matchup.. This does not suit well at all for the Lakers, who allow the most offensive rebounds in the league by a wide margin at 13.3 offensive rebounds per game. Instead of having the guards leak out after every Bulls shot, all 5 Lakers have to find a Bulls player to box out and then crash the boards to not allow extra unnecessary possessions.

Bottom Line

The Lakers do not match up well vs. the Bulls at all. The Bulls play very physical on both ends of the floor under head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s leadership, especially since they do not possess as much talent compared to previous years. Simply speaking, if the Lakers rebound the ball well, they win. If they don’t, they will not win.

Prediction

Bulls: 104-98

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Photo: Jonathan Daniel | Getty Images

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the Lakers have inquired about Chicago Bulls F Taj Gibson.

According to a source, the Lakers, Wizards and Bobcats have each inquired about Gibson, but they were preliminary talks in which the Bulls did not like the return.

Gibson is averaging 12.2 pts, 6.4 reb, 1.5 blk, 1.1 ast and is shooting 48.9% in 28.5 minutes per game.

The Bulls are looking to clear cap space to make a run at Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James this summer, and Gibson seems the most likely to be traded.

And while [Kirk] Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy have been churning in the trade rumor mill for more than a month, Taj Gibson’s name is the one that is picking up, and could determine how serious the Bulls are in clearing space for a max contract to land the likes of a Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James.

Stay tuned as the NBA trade deadline is fast approaching on February 20th.

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Lakers come up short to the Chicago Bulls in overtime, and lose 102-100. Taj Gibson scored the game-winning layup at the buzzer.

Pau Gasol with a strong double-double performance of 20 points, 19 rebounds and 5 blocks. Nick Young also chipped in 31 points off the bench for LAL.

Lakers drop to 2-2 on the Grammy road trip and head to Miami to play the Heat on Thursday at 5:00PM (PST).

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With the Lakers off to a poor start, trade rumors have begun to swirl around Kobe Bryant, leading many to speculate if he'll leave for greener pastures. Kobe puts those rumors to rest in his interview with Yahoo Sports.