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Pau Gasol, Chicago Bulls shut down Los Angeles Lakers

By Tom Musick, The Sports Xchange   |   Feb. 22, 2016 at 12:57 AM
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Bulls center Pau Gasol won a pair of championships playing alongside Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers.

On Sunday night, Gasol bid farewell to his former teammate. Gasol scored 21 points and pulled down seven rebounds, and the Bulls held on for a 126-115 win over the Lakers.

"It was special to play against him again, knowing that it's the last time," Gasol said. "It's not going to happen again, at least in an NBA game. We might play some one-on-one pickup back in Barcelona or in L.A. whenever we meet again."

In the meantime, Gasol and his teammates are focused on recovering from a midseason slump. Guards Derrick Rose and E'Twaun Moore scored 24 points apiece to lead Chicago (29-26).

The Bulls shot 13 of 19 from beyond the arc and 25 of 26 from the free-throw line. After losing five games in a row, Chicago has posted back-to-back wins.

"I'm encouraged with what we're doing offensively right now," Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said. "The ball is moving so much better than it was earlier in the season."

Bryant scored 22 points on 8-for-20 shooting in his final game at the United Center. Forward Julius Randle scored 22 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

Los Angeles (11-46) lost its fifth straight game and fell to 4-40 when allowing 100-plus points.

"It was one of those nights where they just seemed to make every three that was open, and even the ones that weren't open," Lakers coach Byron Scott said. "They seemed to make those, as well. You've got to give them a lot of credit. They shot the (heck) out of the ball tonight."

An 18-4 run by the Lakers trimmed the deficit to 110-107 with 4:46 to go in the fourth quarter. Chicago closed the game on a 16-8 run to earn its second consecutive victory.

Chicago built a 97-81 lead at the end of the third quarter. Moore helped the Bulls pull away late in the quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers and a fast-break slam dunk.

Moore matched a career high with 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting. He made all four of his 3-point attempts and led Chicago in playing time with more than 41 minutes.

Rose praised Moore for stepping forward to fill the void left by injured guard Jimmy Butler.

"He's catching and shooting now," Rose said. "I always love a player like that. The way they're playing me, whenever I have the ball, everybody is keying in on me, making sure I don't get the lane. Having players who are able to knock down those shots spreads the floor a little bit."

Bryant made four consecutive fade-away jump shots over Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy to open the second half. Bryant's fourth straight basket evened the score at 66 with 9:30 left in the third quarter, but the Bulls responded with a 14-4 run to gain a double-digit lead.

Backup guard Aaron Brooks led the Bulls with nine assists. Chicago finished with 30 assists and shot a season-high 55.7 percent (44 of 79).

"The ball is moving," Gasol said. "Guys are moving. They're seeing that if they move, if they cut, they're going to get the ball."

Chicago held a 62-58 advantage at halftime. The Bulls made seven of nine shots from beyond the arc in the first half, including a trio of 3-pointers by rookie forward Bobby Portis. Randle kept the Lakers close by scoring 15 points before the break.

Gasol scored 10 points in 12 minutes to help Chicago grab a 31-30 lead after the first quarter.

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell scored 12 points and tallied six assists in his first start in more than two months. Russell's teammates praised the rookie for his contributions.

"It's great," Randle said. "I think the biggest thing for us going forward is building chemistry with our guys going into next year."

NOTES: Lakers F Kobe Bryant said he felt well enough to play after dislocating his right middle finger two days earlier against San Antonio. "The tip of my finger is a little numb, but I feel the ball pretty well, still," Bryant said before playing his final game in Chicago. ... Bulls G Jimmy Butler (left knee strain) is feeling better and could test his injured leg during drills this week, coach Fred Hoiberg said. Butler remains at least a couple weeks from returning to games. ... Lakers G D'Angelo Russell returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Dec. 12. ... Bulls F Nikola Mirotic remains several weeks away from returning as he recovers from surgeries to remove his appendix and a hematoma. "I know he's still down about 10 pounds, so that's an issue," Hoiberg said.

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