A three-game western road trip didn't start well for the Chicago Bulls, who will try to avoid a fifth straight loss as the visitor Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings.
The Bulls dropped a 90-81 decision to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday. Bryant had 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to lead L.A. Dwight Howard ended with 16 points and 21 boards.
"Howard set the tone and dominated the paint," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. "Kobe came out as a playmaker. Give them credit, they played good defense. Rebounding was a huge factor."
Joakim Noah finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds to lead Chicago, while Nate Robinson recorded 19 points and eight assists in defeat.
Chicago, losers in three of four games, is winless in four straight on the road and will visit Golden State on Friday. The Bulls, who are 17-14 as the guest, sit fifth in the East standings -- two games behind Brooklyn.
The Bulls are still waiting for the pending return of former MVP Derrick Rose, who's still recovering from offseason knee surgery. Rose has been cleared to play, but said he isn't ready mentally and is bothered by hamstring issues.
Taj Gibson, Rip Hamilton and Kirk Hinrich are all out indefinitely.
Sacramento is set to close out a three-game homestand Wednesday and suffered a 115-113 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.
Jimmer Fredette scored 14 points off the bench, DeMarcus Cousins ended with 24 points and 10 rebounds and Tyreke Evans scored 20 for Sacramento, which has dropped 10 of the last 13 games. Cousins received a flagrant foul 2 and was ejected from the game at the 3:26 mark of the third quarter.
"We just tried to play to the end," said Evans. "Jimmer did a great job of coming in and scoring a lot of buckets for us. That helped out a lot."
The Kings, who posted 20-plus assists for the 11th straight game, were coming off a win over Phoenix and fell to 16-15 in California's capital city. On the injury front, Cousins is questionable with a bruised left thigh. He is averaging 23.0 points and 12.0 rebounds the last two games, and owns 28 double-doubles on the season.
Sacramento faced the Bulls back on Oct. 31 this season and sustained a 93-87 loss in the Windy City. The Kings have lost five in a row and nine of the past 11 encounters with Chicago. winners of four straight as the visitor in this series.