The electricity was in the air. the crowd was pumped. No, it wasn’t another sighting of Michael Jordan.
It was in many fan’s views, the closest thing to MJ, Kobe Bryant, playing in Chicago for the last time.
Chicago won this game 126-115 with six Bulls scoring in double-figures. But the night belonged to Kobe. The Bulls made a special tribute to the guard, who is retiring after 20 NBA seasons. Ex-teammate Pau Gasol, who won two NBA titles with Kobe, introduced him to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Then the Bulls proceeded to shoot the ball well, passing the ball, finding the open man. The other game it was Doug McDermott’s 30 point game that helped the Bulls to victory. Sunday night, it was a 24 point effort from E’Twaun Moore, the guard out of Purdue.
Moore found the range all night and had the hot hand. He made some killer treys. Moore’s 24 was a career high for him. Derrick Rose, who has been playing well off late, also scored 24 points. Rose played aggressively, moved well, and found his shot. Gasol had 21 points, and Mike Dunleavy scored 17 and seems to be rounding into form.
Bobby Portis scored 17 and Doug McDermott had 16 points, one game after he scored 30 in a winning effort vs. Toronto.
The Lakers offered little defensive resistance, and the Bulls shot 58% from the floor and converted 25-26 of its free-throws.
The Bulls got a needed W on Kobe’ farewell night.
“Without question, is it always better to win,” said Gasol.
Gasol praised Bryant after the game. “Not many players played 20 years in the League, especially as aggressively as he plays every night,” said Gasol. The fans clamored for Bryant to get off the bench and into the game and they got their wish with about 3:00 left in the 4th quarter, but the Bulls closed out the win.
Chicago is fighting for a playoff spot and is now tied with Charlotte for the 8th seed, both teams have 29-26 records. With both Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic expected to be out for another two weeks, this is a challenging time for the Bulls.