Earlier this year we helped settle the debate over the best team in the history of the NBA through an extensive NBA 2K15 simulation. The 1995-96 Bulls swept the 1985-86 Celtics leaving no doubt on the matter.

There will always be more to argue over however, as evidenced by the back-and-forth between Shaquille O'Neal and Scottie Pippen this week. Who would win between an all-time Lakers team and an all-time Bulls team? Once again we'll turn to NBA 2K15 to find out — and we'll use O'Neal's lineup choices. The Lakers get home court in the game due to having won more championships.

MORE: Whose 2K rankings changed most in 2014-15 season?

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Game Summary

In the first quarter the Los Angeles Lakers opened strong, surging ahead to a 20-13 lead. They dominated in the paint with O'Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. On the other end, however, Pippen came out on fire, ba

cking up the trash talk between him and O'Neal as he scored 12 of the first 18 points for the Chicago Bulls. A 9-0 run by the Bulls would give them the lead at 22-20, and they would continue to hold the lead through the end of the quarter, 32-28.

Neither team was able to break away in the second quarter. Pippen continued to excel, finishing the half with a game-high 19 points. After a fast paced first quarter, things settled down somewhat with both teams scoring 22 points, for a 54-50 Bulls lead at the break.

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The Lakers were able to recapture the lead for the first time since the middle of the first quarter at 59-58. That happened in the midst of the biggest run of the game, 15 straight points, as they went on to open up a nine-point advantage. By the end of the third, the score was 87-76 Lakers.

Down 11, the Bulls had a tough task ahead of them, and though they were able to cut the lead to six at one point, they wouldn't get any closer. The Lakers would push the lead back into double digits and eventually win 118-109.

Keys to the Game

While the NBA 2K engine determined the 1995-96 Bulls (who hold the NBA record with 72 regular-season victories) to be the best team in history, their all-time greats team was unable to vanquish that of the Lakers.

O'Neal said the Lakers would win this matchup by 50 points. That wasn't the case in the simulation, but there were stretches where they outplayed the Bulls by a large margin, and that was all they needed to do to win the game. The 15-0 run in the third quarter was the turning point.

The stats for the two teams were fairly even with the exception of points in the paint, turnovers, and steals. Those were all in favor of the Lakers.

AWESOME: NBA.com has an archived Jordan page from 2001

The perceived advantage for the Lakers in terms of depth didn't really come into play. The benches for both teams held their own in limited action. The big third quarter run by the Lakers came with all the starters on the floor for both teams.

Michael Jordan would probably need to have a huge game for this Bulls team to beat this Lakers team. He had a fine game, but that wasn't enough.

Jordan, Pippen, and Derrick Rose had to carry the weight on offense for the Bulls, while points were more evenly distributed top to bottom by the Lakers. Dennis Rodman really hurt Chicago, playing 34 minutes without scoring a single point. Combine that with Horace Grant and the starting front line for the Bulls only managed 4 points in 64 minutes on the court.

Kobe Bryant was the closer. He scored 11 of his 13 points in the 4th quarter to put any doubt to rest.

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Leading Player Statistics


Elgin Baylor: 24 points, 6 rebounds
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 19 points, 10 rebounds
Magic Johnson: 18 points, 9 assists
Jerry West: 14 points, 3 assists
Kobe Bryant: 13 points, 4 assists, 4 steals
Shaquille O'Neal: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals
James Worthy: 10 points, 4 rebounds
Wilt Chamberlain: 4 points, 3 rebounds

MORE: Greatest Lakers ever


Scottie Pippen: 30 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists
Michael Jordan: 26 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds
Derrick Rose: 22 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds
Bob Love: 10 points, 5 rebounds
Artis Gilmore: 6 points, 6 rebounds
Horace Grant: 6 rebounds, 6 assists
Dennis Rodman: 3 rebounds, 2 steals

MORE: Greatest Bulls ever

Bryan Wiedey posts sports gaming news and analysis daily at Pastapadre.com, has co-founded the new site HitThePass.com, is a regular participant in the Press Row Podcast, and can be reached on Twitter at @Pastapadre.