Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Pau Gasol sparkled in his season debut by scoring 24 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, as the Los Angeles Lakers ran past the Chicago Bulls, 108-93, at Staples Center.
Gasol, who missed the first 11 games of the year with a strained right hamstring, shot 9-of-15 from the floor as the Lakers won their second in a row.
“I had a lot of fun playing again,” said Gasol. “It was a pleasure. I wasn’t expecting to be as effective as I was tonight. I’m a little sore, but I’m happy.”
Kobe Bryant contributed 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and also moved into second-place on the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise all-time scoring list. Bryant has 24,182 points, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24,176) into second place. Jerry West (25,192) is in first place.
Derrick Rose scored 20 and had six assists for the Bulls, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. John Salmons added 18 points and Brad Miller 15 in defeat. Joakim Noah finished with 12 points, 15 rebounds and four steals.
“They’ve got a lot of weapons,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said of the Lakers. “We missed easy shots early. They’re long and that gives you lots of problems. They don’t only have length, they have talent.”
Gasol had 10 points in the first quarter, when the Lakers asserted themselves by moving ahead to a 25-19 lead after 12 minutes. They scored the final six of the quarter and then used an 8-1 spurt in the second for a 45-33 advantage. Ron Artest highlighted that spurt with a three-pointer.
The Lakers were ahead 53-42 at the half and led by double digits the rest of the game. Derek Fisher’s jumper extended the margin to 61-42, and an Artest three in the final minute pushed the advantage to 84-64 . “I thought we played a really decent game and it was nice to have Pau back on the floor. I liked the combinations and the rotation was pretty good,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
Kirk Hinrich nailed a shot from beyond the arc for the Bulls to represent the final points of the stanza, but LA netted the first seven of the fourth for a commanding 91-67 cushion.
The Bulls have dropped five straight to the Lakers, with their last win coming on December 19, 2006 in Chicago. The Bulls have lost 11 of their last 13 on the road to the Lakers…Chicago continues its six-game circus road trip with a game at Denver Saturday night…The Lakers, who are in a stretch of playing 11 of 12 games at home, host Oklahoma City Sunday…Artest had 15 points, Fisher 12 and Andrew Bynum 11 for LA.