LOS ANGELES -- Lakers coach Phil Jackson was musing before Sunday night's game about just how the Bulls would try to deal with Kobe Bryant.
"I don't see why they'll even go guard the other guys," Jackson said. "They should all go just guard him. Put five against one."
That seemed the Bulls' strategy at times, though it didn't stop Bryant, who poured in 24 first-half points on his way to a game-high 43, matching the NBA high this season.
In the end, it wasn't enough for the Lakers as the Bulls rallied for a 96-93 victory at the Staples Center.
The Bulls matched Bryant with their big offensive scoring star. Michael Sweetney?
"Mike has played well for us all year," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said before the game. "Off the bench or starting, we feel like we'd like to get him more involved, get him the ball more and see what he can do."
What Sweetney did was score 15 points and grab 10 rebounds in the first half and 20 points, 12 rebounds for the game. Chris Duhon led the Bulls with 21 points and Kirk Hinrich added 16.
Of course, it was nice for a change that Sweetney had someone he could look in the eye. The Lakers are a small team. With Kwame Brown injured, they started Bryant, Laron Profit, Smush Parker, perimeter player Lamar Odom at power forward and 6-foot-9-inch Chris Mihm at center.
It was a relief for the undersized Bulls, who took advantage with a season high 15 rebounds by Tyson Chandler.
"He'd been playing in bursts," Skiles said. "He's been having a hard time sustaining after a few minutes."
This time, as the Bulls looked to win for the first time on the road this season and sought their second win on the so-called circus trip after 41 losses since 1999, they got the ball in to Sweetney with Chandler finally attacking the backboards.