Lakers show postseason promise with win over Bulls

LeBron James had just jumped into the air, flew around the court and grabbed a rebound. He gracefully put it in the basket.

As he ran back down the court, D’Angelo Russell put his hands to the side of his head, eyes widening like a pair of deep-dish pizzas.

“I couldn’t help it,” Russell said later.

At that moment, James was afraid.

But in the moments when they surrounded him, James was hardly alone.

Anthony Davis dominated. Austin Reaves was as effective as ever. Jarred Vanderbilt guarded DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. James regained his rhythm. And Russell ran it all: the Lakers’ starting five playing as if they’d been together all season.

Before Wednesday’s 121-110 win over the Chicago Bulls, the team shared the court for a whopping seven possessions.

Starting with eight possessions, the lineup looked unstoppable.

“It’s easy,” Russell said.

As intact as he has been for more than a month, it was a sign of the Lakers’ vowed postseason promise, a team that will rise to the top when it all starts to matter.

Davis led the Lakers with 38 points, James 25 and Reaves 17.

Highlight the dominance of the starting line-up? The Lakers outscored the Bulls by 35 points in Russell’s 36 minutes.

“We understand the task,” James said. “We understand … every road trip is huge, but because of our season and the way things have gone, this is the biggest road trip for us right now.”

Wednesday’s lineup was the Lakers’ 79th since the start of last season, but this team didn’t look like anything new.

“All the guys are selfless,” Davis said. “We play for each other. We play the right games.”

From the start, it was clear that Russell was back on the court after sitting out consecutive games with a hip injury.

Chicago Bulls’ Coby White (0) passes under pressure from Lakers’ Anthony Davis during the second half on Wednesday in Chicago.

(Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

“It’s awesome, man, to be healthy and get back out there and get things going again,” he said. “Obviously, you never want to sit back and miss games.”

The Lakers raced out to a 27-10 lead before the Bulls turned on the team’s reserves.

Chicago would eventually come back to lead by three midway through the second quarter before the Lakers’ starters took over the game again.

“I felt like we played really good basketball out of the gate,” Reaves said. “When you have so much talent on the court β€” Bron, AD, DLo, especially β€” and then you put me and Vando in there, go guys, play the right way, that’s how I really thought we started the game (with ).

“Making the extra pass. Just a lot of energy.”

Every time the five were on the court as the cushion stretched, Reaves wrote the final score, a “too little” backcourt hand gesture directed at Patrick Beverley after Reaves hit a jumper in the paint over his former teammate.

Beverley made the same gesture to James during the Bulls’ win at Arena on Sunday.

“AR has always had my back. Always … even at that time he loved Kobe more than me,” James said with a big laugh, referring to some of Reaves’ old social media posts about Kobe Bryant.

The atmosphere was strong in the locker room after the game, with the team back to .500 with a chance to get a game from the Timberwolves when the Lakers play at Minnesota on Friday when James sat out the second game. A month is a good reason for optimism.

“I trust the work done. I know I have done a lot of work. I know my body,” she said.

The Lakers, however, don’t know this team yet, as they’re still building chemistry after the team’s trade deadline last month.

But seeing is believing, as the Lakers delivered convincingly in a big game on Wednesday.

“We have passion, shots, games and defensive guys. I think we got everything we need,” said Davis.

β€œIt’s just a matter of going out there and applying it. Sometimes we have gaps in the game that bite us you know what. I think if we play the way we did tonight with focus and a sense of urgency, knowing what situation we’re in, I think we’ll be fine.

β€œI think we clicked on all cylinders tonight. And if we keep at it, we can definitely run. We have the right parts from top to bottom.”

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