Bulls come up small in rematch with LeBron James, Lakers

In just his second game back from a foot injury that cost him over a month, James scored 25 points and avenged a loss to the Bulls from Sunday in Los Angeles.

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LeBron James

The only thing that was too small on Wednesday was the Bulls’ effort to slow down LeBron James and the Lakers.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Just a reminder that if you aim at the King, you best not miss.

Lakers superstar LeBron James had to remind the Bulls once again.

After guard Patrick Beverley went viral by gesturing to James that he was “too small’’ late in the Bulls’ victory Sunday over the Lakers in Los Angeles, it was Beverley and his teammates who came up tiny in the rematch as James and the Lakers prevailed 121-110 at the United Center on Wednesday.

Playing in only his second game since returning from a foot injury that cost him more than a month, James scored 25 points, and Anthony Davis led all scorers with 38.

The timing of their second consecutive loss couldn’t have been worse. The Bulls (36-40) remain the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference, still holding on to the final play-in spot, but they’re running out of time to move up and get a postseason home game with only six regular-season games left.

“We just couldn’t get anything going from the perimeter,’’ said Bulls coach Billy Donovan, whose team shot 9-for-33 (27.3%) from three-point range. “And then I thought when we did have the ball, some of our turnovers led to some easy stuff for them.’’

That was clear right from the beginning.

The Bulls couldn’t have asked for a worse start to the rematch, but thank goodness for Nikola Vucevic. He scored the first 13 points for the Bulls while the Lakers jumped out to a 27-13 lead. Coby White’s layup with 3:12 left in the first quarter was the first non-Vooch bucket for the Bulls.

By the end of the first quarter, the Bulls were down 31-20, and Vucevic had 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. His teammates combined to go 2-for-15 from the field.

Then it was as if the teams switched identities. The Lakers got bogged down in possessions throughout most of the second quarter, while the Bulls were creating turnovers and getting out in transition.

Within the first four minutes of the second quarter, the Bulls took the lead on a layup by Ayo Dosunmu. Those good feelings were short-lived, however, as they were outscored 10-0 in the final 2:06 of the half, allowing the Lakers to go up 59-51 at halftime.

It was a sign of things to come in the second half. The Lakers wouldn’t allow the Bulls to go on runs, especially when their starters were on the floor.

James finished a plus-23, and D’Angelo Russell was a plus-35. For the Bulls’ starters, Beverley was a minus-32 and Zach LaVine a minus-24.

“In that third quarter, LeBron made some tough shots, and our inability to score with them hurt us,’’ Donovan said.

It didn’t help that guard Alex Caruso (sprained foot) didn’t look right in Donovan’s eyes and was limited in the last two quarters.

As for the “too small’’ gesture, it was flashed again. Austin Reaves hit a short floater over Beverley with 2:51 left and put his hand to the floor, letting Beverley know it was his turn now.

“Yeah, he did it the last time,’’ Reaves said. “It wasn’t something I thought about doing all game, but I felt like it was the right time, right situation. Me and Pat have a good relationship. I respect him. It’s just me competing.’’

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