World news – LeBron James, Lakers hold back Bulls without Anthony Davis

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Talen Horton-Tucker # 5 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends against the shot by Denzel Valentine # 45 of the Chicago Bulls during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls share a moment of silence with Tommy Lasorda before an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles. Lasorda, the fiery manager of the Hall of Fame who led the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and later became the ambassador for the sport he loved during his 71 years in the franchise, died Thursday. He was 93. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers gathers his teammates before a game against the Chicago Bulls at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Montrezl Harrell # 15 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on before a game against the Chicago Bulls at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Coby White # 0 of the Chicago Bulls drives in defense of LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles , California over. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Garrett Temple # 17 of the Chicago Bulls blocks a shot by Dennis Schroder # 17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Zach LaVine # 8 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles past Alex Caruso # 4 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California . NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Daniel Gafford # 12 of the Chicago Bulls defends against a pass to LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles , California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Zach LaVine # 8 of the Chicago Bulls goes on defense of Marc Gasol # 14 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles , California over. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a foul during the first half of a game against the Chicago Bulls at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Zach LaVine # 8 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles past Dennis Schroder # 17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California . NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, 23, defends himself against Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams (9) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles . (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Dennis Schroder # 17 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends against Garrett Temple # 17 of the Chicago Bulls during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Dennis Schroder # 17 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends against Garrett Temple # 17 of the Chicago Bulls during the first half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Zach LaVine # 8 of the Chicago Bulls receives a pass during the first half of a game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls striker Daniel Gafford (above) and striker Thaddeus Young (21) defend against the Los Angeles security guard in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles Lakers, Talen Horton-Tucker (5). (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Los Angeles Lakers security guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) blocks a shot by Chicago Bulls security guard Denzel Valentine (45) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Chicago Bulls forward Daniel Gafford collides with Los Angeles Lakers forward Montrezl Harrell during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles. Gafford was called to an offensive foul. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Garrett Temple (17), the guardian of the Chicago Bulls, will defend himself against LeBron James (23), the striker of the Los Angeles Lakers, in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles . (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

The Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Chicago Bulls Center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) shoots Marc Gasol (14) over Los Angeles Lakers Center during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

The Lakers LeBron James dribbles past the Bulls’ Coby White in the second half of Friday’s game at the Staples Center. James had 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a 117-115 win. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls security guard Zach LaVine, 8, shows up next to Los Angeles Lakers Center Marc Gasol, 14, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers protects the ball from the defense of the Chicago Bulls’ Garrett Temple # 17 during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after defeating the Chicago Bulls 117-115 in a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams, right, defends against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, 23, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles Angeles. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Jared Dudley, right, asks time out from the ground as he tries to get the ball from Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young, 21, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021, held in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Dennis Schroeder (17), the Los Angeles Lakers Guardian, passes the ball during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles from Patrick Williams (left) and Wendell Carter Jr . (Center) of the Chicago Bulls. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young, 21, and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, 23 react at the end of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Friday, January 8, 2021. The Lakers won 117-115. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Chicago Bulls Center Wendell Carter Jr., center, and guard Garrett Temple (17) will defend against forward Markieff Morris (17) in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Friday, January 8, 2021 ( 88) from Los Angeles Lakers. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Garrett Temple (17), the guardian of the Chicago Bulls, will defend himself against LeBron James (23), the striker of the Los Angeles Lakers, in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles . (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives past Coby White # 0 of the Chicago Bulls during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California . NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (left) shoots alongside Chicago Bulls security guard Coby White (0) in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Los Angeles Lakers striker LeBron James, right, shoots next to the Chicago Bulls Center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Friday, January 8, 2021. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Wesley Matthews, 9, guardian of the Los Angeles Lakers, defends Zach LaVine, guardian of the Chicago Bulls, in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game on Friday, January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

Los Angeles Lakers striker Montrezl Harrell, 15, and Chicago Bulls striker Daniel Gafford (left) are headed for the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles on Friday, January 8, 2021 after a rebound. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James # 23 gets rid of the ball by the defense of Zach LaVine # 8 of the Chicago Bulls during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Montrezl Harrell # 15 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball in defense of Wendell Carter Jr. # 34 and Zach LaVine # 8 of the Chicago Bulls during the second half of a game at the Staples Center past January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Talen Horton-Tucker # 5, Montrezl Harrell # 15 and Wesley Matthews # 9 help LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers after falling in the second half of a game against the Chicago Bulls was fouled at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Denzel Valentine # 45 of the Chicago Bulls defends against a shot by Montrezl Harrell # 15 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles , California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Denzel Valentine # 45 of the Chicago Bulls defends against a shot by Montrezl Harrell # 15 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles , California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Montrezl Harrell # 15 of the Los Angeles Lakers receives a pass while Daniel Gafford # 12 of the Chicago Bulls during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles , California, defended. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers turns his ankle as he steps on the foot of Garrett Temple # 17 during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 the Chicago Bulls occurs in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Garrett Temple # 17 of the Chicago Bulls defends against a shot by Markieff Morris # 88 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles , California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Denzel Valentine # 45 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles on Talen Horton-Tucker # 5 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California over. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Thaddeus Young # 21 of the Chicago Bulls blocks a shot by LeBron James # 23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, 23, celebrates with his teammates after scoring in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls in Los Angeles on Friday, January 8, 2021. (AP Photo / Ashley Landis)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Daniel Gafford # 12, Adam Mokoka # 20 and Thaddeus Young # 21 of the Chicago Bulls battle Jared Dudley # 10 of the during the second half of a game at the Staples Center on January 8th Los Angeles Lakers. 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: The user expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and / or using this photo, the user is agreeing to the terms of the Getty Images license agreement. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – For a team with sky-high expectations, the Lakers spent much of the early season flirting with mediocrity.

They had to hold on to the Chicago Bulls in their own building on Friday evening, needed a miss from Zach LaVine (who hadn’t missed much) and, with the help of the brisk Dennis Schröder, lost 4.7 seconds for a 117 – 115 Nail Bit Victory.

LeBron James exhaled after scoring 28 points with seven assists but not looking late at his best. He missed a free throw and a deep 3-point shot too late that an annoying, short-handed Bulls team could have pushed away earlier. But he knocked down a contested layup in the last minute that eventually turned out to be the winner’s basket. This is the fifth time the Lakers have won their last six games and improved to 7-3, the best record of the Western Conference.

« We want to get better, » said James. « In the first 10 games, B, B-plus, I’d give us a grade – that lets me know we have room for improvement, which is a bright spot. »

It’s a game the Lakers have been playing a lot lately that allows smaller teams like Memphis and San Antonio to hang out (the Spurs beat them on Thursday). At least on Friday in the second game of a tackle and without Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, there was a better justification.

It was an electric night for UCLA product LaVine, which finished 14v22 with 38 points (just below the season best). One night after a dubious defense against San Antonio, the Lakers’ fatigue showed up late on the defensive as LaVine kept burning them.

But LaVine’s final shot – a 17-foot jumper 4.7 seconds ahead that would have put Chicago in the lead – missed and the Bulls couldn’t secure the rebound. Schröder took the inbound pass in the back seat and shook off a chasing Thaddeus Young before being fouled with too little time for Chicago to make a serious attempt to win or tie.

« I told Bron to just throw it in the back yard and just let me run away, » said Schröder. « I mean, I did. I’ve been doing this for seven or eight years. »

Without Davis, a surprise scratch with a strained adductor, the Lakers had a number of hands that broke his batting average: Schröder, who had 17 points, Montrezl Harrell with 17 (and 14 rebounds), and Wesley Matthews with 14 his first start of the season.

For much of the evening, James was content to simply delight in Patrick Williams, the 19-year-old fourth overall winner of the November Draft. From an early spin move in the first quarter to get to the basket, to several turnaround fadeaways, to floaters in the color, James showed him enough moves to cause the beginners nightmares long afterwards. The only tool James couldn’t reach for was his 3 point shot: it was 0 for 5 from the deep.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, LaVine didn’t need that kind of variety and hurled himself after possession on rides to edge possession. The Lakers dropped 62 points in the paint, with Davis’ absence particularly pointing to their inability to protect the rim.

Playing without the All-Star striker hurt the Lakers on the other end as well. The cops packed the paint up to keep James from driving and there weren’t many dunks to be had as the offense only generated 42 points in the paint.

« We didn’t play our best basketball the second night in a row, » said coach Frank Vogel. « But we stayed there and dragged it out. »

Matthews brought some heat into the third quarter when his 3-pointers began to drop. James sought him out aggressively, including a ricochet pass that he threaded to the other side of the pitch to escape a doubles team. The Lakers led by up to seven before a bull rally pulled them back into a tie.

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The bank advantage (41-32) let the Lakers sneak further forward, especially since Harrell regained some security with his touch. Harrell was the top scorer for both teams’ reserves, shooting 7-13 off the field.

The cops were already understaffed and struggled to keep up – especially after Otto Porter Jr. was excluded after just six minutes of play with back problems.

The Lakers return to the streets in Houston on Sunday, in a month that will see them play 13 of 17 of their games outside of Los Angeles. James remains lost that street arenas will have the same noise as the Staples Center. But at least the Lakers have time to work on self-motivation.

« You have to give each other energy, you have to give yourself energy, talk your way through a lot of things, challenge yourself, » he said. “So the games are definitely very different. When we’re on the road, it’s our first time at home against Houston. If we play them it will be different too, but we look forward to it.  »

LeBrons 28 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST bring the @Lakers to 7-3 in the season. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/lSaeI24JQd

« We stayed there, we didn’t play our best basketball, the second night of a duel, but we stayed there and competed. » Frank Vogel taking away from today’s victory. pic.twitter.com/4SLw6jJQF8

@ MONSTATREZZ (17 PTS, 14 REB) talks to @LakersReporter after the game about his attitude towards today’s game against the Bulls. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/BE7zHHYafX

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