CHICAGO (AP)—Luol Deng played with polish, not like a rookie who could have stayed in school and been a sophomore at Duke this season.
Facing Kobe Bryant, he didn’t back down one bit Wednesday night, even as the Lakers star started to take over the game.
“We all knew that he was going to do that because he’s a great player,” Deng said. “I just tried to chase Kobe down and tried to get him a little fatigued.”
Deng scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and the Chicago Bulls beat Bryant and the Lakers 92-84 for their second win in 10 games.
Bryant was unstoppable for much of the final quarter—he had 14 of his 28 in the last period—but he did have three turnovers, including a key over-and-back violation with 1:45 left because of Deng’s tough defense.
“It happens wherever we go. It’s something about the Lakers—every one wants to beat the Lakers,” Bryant said of the Bulls’ inspired play.
“We had a tough time matching energy. They really came out with a lot of energy.”
Fellow rookie Ben Gordon added 17 points for the Bulls, eight in the fourth quarter, redeeming himself for missing a wide-open dunk in the third quarter when the Bulls let a 12-point lead slip away.
“I can dunk,” Gordon said with a smile. “I was able to get my head back in the game. Anytime you can win against a team with a player like Kobe Bryant, it gives you confidence against other teams.”
Bryant scored nine straight Lakers points in the fourth, starting with four free throws. He then drilled a 3-pointer, raced to the other end to make a steal, dribbled the ball back to the other end and then used a dazzling crossover to get open for a go-ahead baseline layup. That gave the Lakers a 76-74 lead.
The Bulls got a spectacular reverse layup and 3-pointer from Deng and a driving three-point play by Gordon after Bryant was called for an offensive foul and then committed a turnover.
That eight-point spurt gave Chicago an 82-76 lead before Bryant hit another 3.
Caron Butler later made two free throws to cut the lead to three, but officials ruled that Atkins should’ve been at the line and wiped the points off the board. Atkins then hit one of two to cut the lead to 84-80 with 4:19 to play.
Bryan’s floater made it a two-point game but after the Lakers missed two potential tying jumpers, Deng hit another jumper for a four-point cushion and then forced Bryant into an over-and-back call at midcourt. Gordon then hit a bank shot to seal the win.
“Tonight we did not get discouraged. We just kept playing,” Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. “We made our free throws and didn’t turn it over. We’d be much better than 2-10 if we made our free throws and didn’t turn it over.”
Bryant, who didn’t have a basket over the final three quarters of Tuesday night’s win at Milwaukee, drew some mild boos when he first touched the ball. His response: an off-balance jumper for the game’s first points.
He put together a highlight-film sequence in the second quarter, blocking a shot by Andres Nocioni and then racing to the other end and banking in a jumper from the lane as he was falling.
With Bryant on the bench resting, the Bulls scored the final five points of the half for a 45-40 lead.
Nocioni returned after missing two days of practice to visit his wife and child in Argentina. Weary from two long flights, he didn’t start for the first time this season. … Chicago activated G Frank Williams before the game and he entered in the second quarter for his first action of the season. … The Lakers are 9-1 when holding opponents under 100 points.