CHICAGO – With nine-tenths of a second left, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau drew up a play for Taj Gibson. He told the athletic forward to attack the basket and use his left hand.
Done, and done.
Gibson got a nice bounce pass from Mike Dunleavy and made a lefty layup at the buzzer in overtime, lifting the Bulls to a 102-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
"You don't have a lot of time in that situation. It is a quick read," Thibodeau said. "Dunleavy made a great play on it and Taj obviously. But we needed everyone to sell the play. We had good fortune on it."
Dunleavy had to inbound from underneath the basket and found Gibson cutting down the middle. He then muscled toward the hoop for the winning basket, which was confirmed by a video review by the officials.
"It was a good play," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It was designed well and they executed well. We played baseline and didn't slide over."
Gibson said it was his first winning buzzer-beater at any level.
"They always crack jokes on me in practice about trying to use my left and today I proved them wrong," a grinning Gibson said.
Joakim Noah had 17 points, 21 rebounds and six assists for Chicago (20-20), which has won eight of 10 to get back to .500 for the first time since Nov. 27. D.J. Augustin had a season-high 27 points, and Jimmy Butler finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Nick Young had 31 points for the Lakers (16-26), including a tying baseline jumper with 6 seconds left in overtime. The streaky sub also made three free throws with 4.1 seconds left in regulation, tying it at 93.
"It's heartbreaking," Young said. "We both fought hard today, but we felt like we were competing and was in it. That's all we can ask for. I don't think any of us wanted to do another overtime. But if we had to, we would have."
The Lakers were coming off a 112-106 victory at Toronto on Sunday. They also played Friday night at Boston, winning 107-104 to stop a six-game slide.
Even with such little rest, the Lakers managed to score the first five points in overtime. But Augustin led the Bulls right back, driving for a layup that gave the Bulls a 100-98 lead with 1:30 left.
Augustin had to shoulder the load at the point after Kirk Hinrich departed in the third with a right hamstring injury.
"We like to close games with D.J. and Kirk," Thibodeau said. "That allows you to bring D.J. off some catch-and-shoot things and into the pick and roll. We didn't have that option so we had to go to some other things."
Pau Gasol had 20 points and 19 rebounds for Los Angeles, and Jodie Meeks added 16 points and seven assists.
The Lakers' visit to the United Center had none of the usual luster that had been a staple of the games between two of the NBA's most successful franchises over the years. The best players on each team are sidelined by serious injuries, making it next to impossible for Los Angeles to keep up in the loaded Western Conference and casting doubt on the Bulls' goal of winning the title.
Los Angeles is playing without star guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, the headliners of a long list of injuries for the Lakers, especially in the backcourt. Bryant broke a bone in his left knee Dec. 17 at Memphis, and Nash is out with a back problem.
"Just been riding the bike, trying to stay in shape that way," Bryant said before the game. "Not much I can really do in terms of running and things of that nature. Mainly just focused on doing bike work."
While Bryant and Nash could return in the next couple of weeks, the Bulls will play the rest of the season without star point guard Derrick Rose. The 2011 NBA MVP had surgery on Nov. 25 after he tore the medial meniscus in his right knee in a game at Portland.
The Bulls also traded All-Star Luol Deng to Cleveland on Jan. 7 for draft picks and Andrew Bynum, and then promptly waived the enigmatic center in a salary dump.
With Bryant watching from the sideline, the Lakers rallied after a slow start. Young had 13 of his 17 first-half points in the second quarter as Los Angeles erased a five-point deficit on their way to a 52-49 lead at the break.
Noah had 11 points and 10 rebounds at halftime, continuing a career-best run that could lead to a second straight All-Star appearance for the post player. He has grabbed at least 10 boards in 13 straight games for the franchise's longest streak since Tyson Chandler also had a 13-game run during the 2006-07 season.
"I just want to help this team win," Noah said.