Julius Randle nails crucial basket late as weary Lakers outlast Bulls in thrilling finish
Jordan Clarkson hit back to back baskets to keep the Lakers up late before Julius Randle sealed the win. AP

JULIUS Randle came up big down the stretch to help the Los Angeles Lakers overcome a slow start and turn back the Chicago Bulls, 96-90, United Center on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time).

The Lakers played their fourth game in five nights and the fatigue showed early, as they fell down by as much as 14 in a sluggish first quarter. Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams led the comeback in the second period as they managed to end up tied at the half, 47-all, to set the tone for the see-saw battle the rest of the way.

The Bulls again took an 8-point lead midway through the third before the Laker bench launched another rally to keep the game close at the halfway mark of the fourth period. After back-to-back baskets by Clarkson put the Lakers ahead 90-87 with 1:50 remaining, Jimmy Butler tied the game with a three-pointer before Randle scored the pivotal basket with 45 ticks left.

Butler missed on a game-tying attempt but Williams left the door open for the Bulls after splitting his charities. Butler again flubbed a triple that could have sent the game to overtime, and Randle sank another free throw to seal the win.

Clarkson and Williams each scored 18 to lead the Lakers, who are now at 10-10. Randle added 13 markers and a career-high 20 rebounds.

Butler led all scorers with 22 but had a miserable shooting performance, making just 4-of-18 from the floor. The Bulls fell to 10-7 despite all starters scoring in double digits. Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo had 17 and 14 markers, respectively. Taj Gibson added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

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