The NBA season finally kicked off on Sunday. The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Chicago Bulls and reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose at the Staples Center for a Christmas Day showdown. The game was a hard-fought contest to kick off the season in a big way. After trailing early in the game against a strong Bulls team,the Lakers took the lead late in the third quarter and held on to it until the final four seconds of the game, before ending up on the losing end.
The Bulls trailed throughout much of the first quarter but went on a late run and held a 22-20 lead at the first break. They opened up an even bigger gap, leading 56-49 at halftime as they went on a tear at the end of the second quarter. In the third quarter, the Lakers turned it around and came from behind on a late run, entering the final quarter holding a slim 69-68 lead. Every quarter seemed to end with a huge, eventful drive by one of the teams and the fourth quarter was no exception.
The Lakers held a 87-81 lead with 0:54 left on the clock, before everything fell apart. Luol Deng drove for a layup and drew the personal foul from Pau Gasol with just 45 seconds left in the game to close the gap to 87-84. Kobe Bryant missed a fadeaway jumper, drawing a foul as he and Deng battled for the rebound. Deng sank both free throws and the game was 87-86 in favor of Los Angeles with 0:20 remaining. Luol Deng managed a steal on a pass bad pass from Bryant intended for Pau Gasol. Derrick Rose got the ball off of the steal and managed to sink a jumper to put the Bulls on top for the first time in the quarter, 88-87 with just 4.8 seconds left.
To no one's surprise, Kobe was given the ball, but Deng blocked a short jump-shot as time expired. The Bulls picked up the first win of the season, while the Lakers took the loss.
Bryant led all scorers with 28 points, going 11-for-23 with seven rebounds and eight assists. Pau Gasol picked up 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Point guard Steve Blake also had a big game, finishing with 12 points and three rebounds.
Rose and Deng led the Bulls offense. Rose finished with 22 points and five assists. Deng scored 21 points, including 6-for-6 on free throws, as well as picking up seven rebounds, three assists and four steals.