How the Lakers’ physical defense slowed the Bulls’ offensive momentum

The Lakers are defending NBA champions for a reason. They’re an elite defensive team which uses size, strength and smarts to throttle opponents.

So the fact the Bulls lost 101-90 on the second night of a back-to-back set while playing without Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. isn’t that surprising.

What does raise an eyebrow after such a sustained period of sublime offensive play is how meekly the Bulls succumbed in the first half, trailing 63-33 at the break. One night after registering 33 assists, the Bulls had just six at halftime and finished with more turnovers than helpers.

“I was really disappointed in the first half,” coach Billy Donovan said.

Shot-making always makes everything look better and can cover up flaws that might otherwise go unnoticed. Even if there wasn’t a formidable defensive team at the other end, a night the Bulls missed their first 13 attempts from 3-point range, posted a season low for points and shot 39.3 percent will inevitably expose some things.

But Donovan has talked about the need to sustain cutting and moving and powering through physicality all season. Those traits weren’t on display for much of this night.

“That was the problem. That was the challenge. You have to move them around,” Donovan said. “They’re too long, too physical and too smart. The more stationary and stagnant you get against them, the more it plays into their hands. And that requires a lot…

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