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Preview: Lakers at Bulls

January 21, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Lakers center Dwight Howard, right, and forward Metta World Peace watch officials as they get ready to assess double technicals to Howard and Raptors swingman Alan Anderson (not pictured). It was Howard's second technical of the game and he was ejected.
Lakers center Dwight Howard, right, and forward Metta World Peace watch… (Nathan Denette / Associated…)

The Lakers (17-23) visit the Chicago Bulls (23-16) on Monday night, playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Luol Deng is questionable with a hamstring issue for the Bulls.

Oddly, Chicago is just 11-11 at home. They've been dominant on the road at 12-5, but there's a slight vulnerability for the Lakers to exploit.

Of course, the Lakers haven't played well consistently. They'll need their best game to beat the Bulls and that's a little much to ask given the minutes played in Toronto on Sunday.

Key Matchup

Joakim Noah is one of the better defensive centers in the league.  He'll be a formidable matchup for Dwight Howard.

Noah is averaging 12.4 points a game and 10.6 rebounds a year.  His 4.1 assists per game are second only to point guard Kirk Hinrich's.

Howard is coming off a second-quarter ejection against the Raptors.  Perhaps that will lead to fresher legs against the Bulls.

X-factor

Marco Belinelli recently hit a game winner for the Bulls.  He's not always a consistent presence for Chicago but his offense can spark his team.

The Lakers are still trying to integrate Pau Gasol with Howard. The team is better when they play inside out. Against the defensive-minded Bulls, the Lakers will need to get Gasol, Howard or both going offensively.

Outlook

The Lakers have a shot to get this one in Chicago but they shouldn't be favored on the second night of a back-to-back.

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Pau Gasol 'probably not' open to coming off the bench

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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