For all of the Lakers’ problems this season, they’re still a team possessing the talents of superstars Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, so when the Bulls don’t execute, play defense at their typical level or suffer through a miserable offensive outing, it’s a recipe for disaster.

All of the above occurred Sunday, as the Bulls (35-28) fell to the star-studded Lakers (33-31), 90-81, and despite imposing their blue-collar style of play and keeping Bryant relatively in check, their injury-related lack of depth and scoring deficiencies caught up to them, resulting in the final score.

All-Star center Joakim Noah (18 points, 17 rebounds) had his hands full from the outset of the contest, as his counterpart Howard (16 points, 21 rebounds), much maligned for his performance all season, appeared motivated, the Lakers looked to get him established from the early going and he was a force on the glass.

Meanwhile, the backcourt of former league MVPs Bryant (19 points, nine assists) and Nash (16 points) continued their reversal of historical roles, as Nash focused more on scoring and Bryant, whose shot was off early, handled play-making duties.

Still, despite Howard’s interior dominance, the visitors managed to keep things close via their typical, grind-it-out style of play, even as they again struggled with their shooting, besides Nate Robinson (19 points, eight assists)—again filling in for injured starting point guard Kirk Hinrich, who was sidelined for the game, along with top reserve Taj Gibson and superstar Derrick Rose—who was also effective in setting up his teammates.