Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork. Brandin Cooks Jersey .com) - Pau Gasol faced his former team for the first time, but a showdown with Kobe Bryant will have to wait. Gasol had 23 points and 13 rebounds as the Chicago Bulls routed the Los Angeles Lakers 113-93 on Christmas Day. Gasol signed with the Bulls during the offseason after spending his previous six-plus seasons with the Lakers, winning a pair of NBA titles. It was weird, difficult at first to get going, Gasol admitted. Once you start playing, youre just playing the best game you can. The 36-year-old Bryant cited old age and sore knees as his reasons for sitting out Thursday nights game against Chicago during a pregame session with reporters. The team is struggling right now and its difficult to see him struggle, Gasol said of Bryant and the Lakers. The game in LA will probably be a little more emotional than this one. Gasol will return to Staples Center to play the Lakers on Jan. 29. Jimmy Butler posted 21 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Derrick Rose added 20 points and six assists for Chicago, which has won five straight and eight of its last nine games. Wesley Johnson supplied 19 points and nine boards and Ed Davis provided 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who have dropped four of their last five contests. Butlers turnaround fadeaway in the waning seconds of the first half staked Chicago to a 58-47 halftime advantage, but an 11-2 Lakers run to start the second half got them within a basket. Jordan Hill had six points during the surge, which was capped on a Johnson layup to trim the margin to 60-58. The Bulls pulled away during the latter stages of the third and early portion of the fourth with an 11-3 burst. Taj Gibson split a pair of foul shots to finish off the swing and give the Bulls a 92-80 spread. Chicago cruised to the easy win from there. Earlier, the Bulls led 27-24 following a quarter of play and outscored LA 31-23 in the second. Game Notes Gasol signed a three-year, $22 million contract with Chicago during the offseason ... It wouldve been Bryants NBA-record 16th Christmas Day game had he suited up. He came in averaging 30.4 points over his last nine Christmas games ... LA turned the ball over just four times, but was outrebounded 57-39. Joseph Noteboom Rams Jersey . In Englands first game since its worst-ever World Cup showing, Roy Hodgsons side rarely looked like scoring against unambitious opposition and the breakthrough in the friendly only came when Raheem Sterling was tripped in the penalty area. John Kelly Jersey . The 19-year-old Swiss centre back will initially have to impress in Uniteds reserve side to earn a spot in the first team. Veseli says "Manchester United has a long history of younger players coming through and hopefully I can follow and do the same. http://www.laramsfansshop.com/c-75-rams-john-franklin-myers-jersey.aspx . - Justin Turner is at his best with runners in scoring position, and he delivered again in a big spot for the Los Angeles Dodgers.TORONTO - With just over two minutes remaining in the first half of Mondays win over the lowly Bucks, Kyle Lowry dumped the ball into Jonas Valanciunas on the left block. Isolated against Ersan Ilyasova, Valanciunas turned to face up, took one dribble and barreled into the smaller defender, who took the charge. As Milwaukee called a timeout, Lowry followed the Raptors promising sophomore centre straight to the bench. “Know your opponent,” he implored, instructing Valanciunas to post-up when he has a size and strength advantage over the defender. The Raptors were up by 14 at the time, they would go on to win by 22 and Valanciunas would register his 12th double-double of the campaign, four more than he totalled as a rookie last season. Still, Lowry was all over the gaffe. The two have developed a mutually beneficial mentor-protégé relationship. "Hes kind of like a coach," Valanciunas said of Lowry after practice the day prior. He knows a lot, he tries to help everybody, especially me because Im the young guy." Lowry has been as tough on the young centre as anyone in the Raptors organization and as such his fingerprints can be found all over the 21-year-olds continued development. "Hes been great," coach Dwane Casey told TSN.ca, speaking of Lowry and the leadership role hes taken with Valanciunas. "He has a way of getting on him but yet still he has a relationship with him that he can talk to him that way. "Other people may not understand it but Kyles done a great job of working with Jonas, letting him know what he needs to do. [Hes] just been a great mentor to him. Thats been huge for Jonas." Both players are approaching the middle of their second season together in Toronto. Lowry was acquired in a trade from Houston in July of 2012, just around the same time Valanciunas - Torontos fifth overall pick in 2011 - had arrived from Lithuania. After missing the bulk of training camp with injuries last season, both of their Raptor careers got off to shaky starts. While Lowry struggled through injuries, fluctuating playing time and philosophical differences with the coaching staff, Valanciunas experienced the growing pains you would expect from a 20-year-old getting accustomed to his surroundings in a new country, in a new league. Valanciunas has seen his playing time increase by five minutes per night in his second season; hes regularly on the court during crucial moments at the end of games and he is becoming more of a focal point in Torontos offence. However, as both his coach and his point guard would tell you, hes far from a finished product. He continues to make nightly mistakes - with his positioning, in the pick-and-roll game, and on defence, particularly as the help man - and Lowry is usually the first person to let him hear about it. "Every time he messes up we talk about it," Lowry said. "I tell him what he did and then he fixes it and I congratulate him when he does it [right]. "I think he has the skills and he has the heart and he has the right mentality to be one of the best bigs in the league," the Raptors point guard continued. "My constructive criticism is just tough, big brother love. I think the world of him, I think he can be so good [and] tthats why I push him. Ndamukong Suh Rams Jersey. . Im always going to be tough on him because I know how good hes going to be." Lowry, an eight-year NBA vet, is also coming into his own, playing the best basketball of his career and spearheading the Raptors recent resurgence. "Thats just coming from buying in if you ask me," former Raptors teammate Alan Anderson said of Lowry. Most importantly - for a player that will be in the market for a new contract this summer - he is well on his way to shedding the reputation that has followed him like a dark cloud over the years. "Kyles showed hes been a positive leader," Casey said over the weekend. "I think that was the biggest question among coaches around the league, could he be a positive leader and be productive on the court." Not only has he been productive, averaging career-highs across the board, but hes been the consummate professional his team has desperately needed him to be while remaining a positive influence on his younger teammates, namely Valanciunas. Occasionally combative, Lowrys fiery nature has often been misunderstood. The reality - which his teammates and coaches have come to accept and appreciate - is, he holds himself and everyone around him to an incredibly high standard. He is a fierce competitor with an unrelenting will to win. Lowry is a strong personality, certainly not the first Casey has coached. The Raptors coach worked with future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett in Minnesota and current Nets bench boss Jason Kidd in Dallas, but Lowrys leadership style reminds him of another hard-nosed point guard from his past. "The guards that Ive had, Gary Payton was one of the [toughest]," Casey said, having coached ‘The Glove as an assistant in Seattle. "He would use some colourful words to talk with his teammates but they understood it, he had a relationship with [them], just like Kyle. Kyle reminds me so much of Gary in the fact that he can talk to players in a certain way that they understand because he has their respect and he has a relationship with them. "As long as you have that relationship and you back it up with love and real sugar than you can get on guys but I havent seen Kyle be overly tough on JV, just when he needs it and just the right amount." As Casey points out, Lowry walks a fine line between tough love and going too far, but he does it with precision. Hes hard on Valanciunas because he recognizes the young mans upside but also, and most importantly, he knows the seven-footer can take it. "Hes really receptive," Lowry said, "because I tell him, I tell him why Im so tough on him and he understands that. "He knows how to do it," said Valanciunas, who has thick skin, having played professionally in Europe since he was 15. "I understand hes my teammates, he wants me to do good and [Ive] just got to live with that." Whether or not Valanciunas realizes or fully appreciates it now, Lowry should have a long-lasting impact on his auspicious NBA career. As for Lowry, his future with the team remains uncertain but wherever he ends up, after cashing in on this seasons revival, his Raptors legacy will live on in the growth of the franchises emerging centre. 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