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Julius Randle makes late layup to help Lakers edge Bulls 96-90

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers needed a basket, and Julius Randle wanted the ball.

Coach Luke Walton loved the whole thing.

“If it’s a one-on-one situation with space, we feel very confident that he’ll win that matchup,” Walton said.

Got it done in a big moment Wednesday night.

Randle made a strong move against Nikola Mirotic for a tiebreaking layup with 45.1 seconds left, and the Lakers held off the Chicago Bulls for a gritty 96-90 victory.

Randle had 13 points and matched a career high with 20 rebounds as Los Angeles bounced back from a 105-88 loss at New Orleans on Tuesday night. Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson scored 18 points apiece, and Larry Nance Jr. finished with 12 points and 11 boards.

“Our guys just played hard, stayed mentally locked in,” Randle said.

Randle’s drive and layup gave Los Angeles a 92-90 lead. After Jimmy Butler missed on the other side for Chicago, Williams went 1 for 2 at the line with 20 seconds to go.

Butler then missed another 3 and Randle and Nance combined for three foul shots to help Los Angeles hold on.

“Our guys have proven that when their backs are against the wall they can step up for a challenge,” Walton said. “They did it tonight. That’s a great win against a very talented team.”

Butler had 22 points on 4-of-18 shooting for the Bulls, who were hoping to build on a 4-2 road trip. Dwyane Wade, who was listed as doubtful after getting some dental work on Tuesday, scored 17 points, and Robin Lopez finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and a career-high eight blocked shots.

“It was an ugly game,” Wade said. “We have to find a way to win those games. No excuses.”

The Bulls used 40 points from Butler to beat the Lakers 118-110 in Los Angeles on Nov. 20. But the Lakers held the Bulls to 35.2 percent shooting in the rematch and enjoyed a 60-46 rebounding advantage.

“I think the missed shots definitely affected us,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You can’t let that happen. That and rebounding has to be your constant.”

BANGED-UP LAKERS

It was an impressive response from Los Angeles after the team announced before the game that Nick Young strained his right calf muscle in Tuesday night’s loss to the Pelicans, sidelining the guard for two to four weeks.

The Lakers also were without guard D'Angelo Russell, who missed his sixth straight game due to left knee soreness.

GOOD START, BAD FINISH

The Bulls led by as many as 14 in the first quarter before settling for a 28-17 advantage after one. But the Lakers rallied in the second and it was tied at 47 at the break.

“We stopped rebounding. We stopped getting to loose balls. A lot of stuff,” Butler said. “It changed in their favor and they caught us slipping.”

TIP-INS

Lakers: Randle leads the team with five double-doubles this season. He has 39 double-doubles in 99 career games. … It was Los Angeles’ first win at the United Center since a 96-87 victory on Dec. 15, 2009. It had dropped five in a row in Chicago. … The Lakers committed 24 turnovers, leading to 26 points for the Bulls.

Bulls: F Doug McDermott (concussion protocol) missed his seventh consecutive game. … Butler has scored 20 or more points in his last 11 games, setting a career high. His previous best was six in a row. … Chicago dropped to 8-1 this season when its opponent scores fewer than 100 points. … The Bulls matched a season high with 15 steals.

 

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.