Lakers vs. Bulls preview: A classic match of offense-defense

Lisa Blumenfeld

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls go at it Monday in a classic battle of offense against defense.

In a battle of the Los Angeles Lakers offense and the Chicago Bulls defense, success has been on the side of the the latter coming into Monday night's game between the two teams. Consistency seems to be the issue in Laker Nation.

Mike D'Antoni's Lakers visit the United Center hoping that a 17-23 record won't be telling of how well a fast-paced offense will work against Tom Thibodeau's defensive-minded Bulls (23-16). Los Angeles enters the game with an offensive ratings of 108.4 points per 100 possessions, good enough for sixth in the NBA, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Their fluency in the newly-installed offense will be tested against Chicago's defense, which allows the NBA's fifth-best defensive rating of 101 points per 100 possessions.

The Lakers, still with a roster unsettled by injury, got good news on Sunday when power forward Pau Gasol returned from a concussion. He scored 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting as a starter, and the team also got good production out breakout forward Earl Clark, who had a double-double of 14 points and 14 boards. Clark also had the only positive plus-minus on the Lakers' team in the 108-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

The bad news, however, is that the Lakers have a 5-13 road record and have lost the last five in a row. Losing to the Bulls on the road would make it the longest losing streak for the franchise in eight seasons.

It's even worse for D'Antoni's squad that the Bulls could very well be testy.

Chicago is coming off a perplexing loss against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday where Joakim Noah was benched by Thibodeau during crunch time.

A responding Noah, more well-known for his energy and defensive assertiveness, could prove problematic for the Lakers. Then again, so will the likes of Carlos Boozer, Kirk Hinrich and Richard Hamilton. Of course, that's because the Lakers' defense has been brutally unwatchable. In its last game, Los Angeles allowed the so-so offense of the Raptors to carve up the defense and shoot 63 percent on two-point attempts for the entire game.

The Bulls would surely like to control the tempo -- bring it to a crawl even.

Meanwhile, the Lakers will continue their search for a mildly-competent defense to go with an inconsistent offense.

Time: 9:30 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

Odds: Chicago is a one-point favorite.

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