6:30 PM ET, November 18, 2007
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Lakers might not be among the NBA's elite teams, but they're making a case for having one of the league's strongest benches.
Kobe Bryant scored 10 of his 18 points in the third quarter, five Los Angeles reserves finished in double figures, and the Lakers beat the Chicago Bulls 106-78 on Sunday night for their third straight victory.
The Los Angeles substitutes outscored their Chicago counterparts 73-31, and the Lakers outrebounded the Bulls 51-38.
The last time the Lakers had five reserves score in double figures was on March 9, 1985, and no Los Angeles team had come up with as many as 73 points off the bench since April 24, 1988 when the substitutes scored 84.
"If they keep doing what they did today on a consistent basis, I'm going to jump off the ledge and say yeah," starting forward Lamar Odom replied when asked if the Lakers' bench was the best in the league.
"Our guys are really jelling," Bryant said. "It's great for us because it's a long season. I think they have great chemistry, and they've worked really hard, as we all do."
Los Angeles blew the game open by scoring 18 straight points to finish the third quarter and start the fourth for an 81-60 lead with 9:45 remaining. All 18 points were scored by reserves.
The Bulls weren't closer than 15 points after that, and suffered their most lopsided loss ever to the Lakers. The previous record margin was 27 points in 1968.
Andrew Bynum had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers; Jordan Farmar added 14 points and a career-high eight assists; Chris Mihm and Vladimir Radmanovic scored 11 points each and Luke Walton added 10.
"Our bench is all into playing together," said Walton, a starter last season. "We have a lot of fun playing together. When you do that, you have success. You get into that groove playing with those guys. We're getting more of an identity, and we're having fun doing it."
The Lakers trailed at halftime 46-45 before outscoring the Bulls 61-32 in the final 24 minutes.
"It seems like we ran out of gas," Chicago's Ben Gordon said.
The Bulls were playing for the second straight night at Staples Center, having beaten the Clippers 92-73 for their first road victory of the season.
"The first half was really a difficult half for us," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I was surprised the crowd was still there that second half."
Gordon scored 20 points and Andres Nocioni had 14 points and six rebounds for the Bulls, off to a disappointing 2-7 start after they were picked as one of the Eastern Conference's best teams during the preseason.
"We're just inconsistent, myself included," said Chicago's Kirk Hinrich, who shot 3-of-11 and scored eight points. "Everybody just needs to do their job, and hopefully we'll find our way out of this thing."
Both teams played without a starting forward. Luol Deng, the Bulls' second-leading scorer, sat out because of lower back pain. Ronny Turiaf missed his second game for the Lakers due to a sprained left ankle.
The Lakers lost starting center Kwame Brown early in the game as well. Brown left in the first quarter with what the team called moderate sprains of the left knee and ankle. X-rays were negative.
"It's going to be 24-to-48 hours before we really know what's going to happen," Jackson said. "I haven't seen it on tape. I know it wasn't a pretty sight."
Brown was injured when Bulls center Ben Wallace fell into him. Bryant charged into Wallace while driving toward the basket and passing underneath to Brown, who went down in a heap clutching his left leg after the contact, which came as he was going up for a shot.
"He'll be fine. Kwame's a beast," Bryant said with a smile.
The game was the first between the teams since early-season trade talks involving Bryant, who has asked to be dealt and apparently would welcome a move to Chicago.
"It was talked about incessantly for about two or three weeks," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "We even talked about it as a team. We haven't talked about it for several days now, but it's over. It's just dead. Dead story."
Bryant, who scored eight points in the first half, had nine during a 15-2 spurt to start the third quarter, giving the Lakers a 60-48 lead and putting them ahead to stay. The Bulls drew within three points before Los Angeles went on its game-clinching run.
The Lakers finished with 22 turnovers to 19 for the Bulls. ... The teams have split their games each of the past three seasons. They play for the final time this season Dec. 18 in Chicago. ... Jackson has a 10-5 record against Chicago -- the team he coached to six NBA championships during the 1990s. ... Deng started the Bulls' first eight games this season and all 82 last season, when he averaged 18.8 points and 7.1 rebounds -- both career bests. ... Lakers spokesman John Black said Brown wouldn't travel for a three-game road trip that begins Tuesday night in Indiana and finishes Friday night in Boston.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||31-89 (.348)||36-79 (.456)|
|3PM-3PA||5-20 (.250)||8-17 (.471)|
|FTM-FTA||11-16 (.688)||26-29 (.897)|
|Fast Break Points||8||16|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||27 (0/0)||18 (0/0)|