For the first eight minutes of Wednesday’s 121-110 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, it seemed as if Nikola Vučević was the only player in a Chicago Bulls jersey who could land a shot at the United Center.
Vučević found nearly every shot in his bag, dancing through post-ups and sinking a 3-pointer from the top of the arc. But the rest of the team couldn’t find a single shot that would fall — not a floater, not a free throw, not a 3-pointer. Vučević went 6-for-9 in the quarter. His teammates combined to go 2-for-15. And the tone for the game was set — or rather, wasn’t established at all — by the end of the opening frame.
Coby White finally snapped the streak, landing a layup with 3:12 left in the first. Derrick Jones Jr. was the only other Bulls player to score in the quarter, splashing a 3-pointer in the final minutes as the Bulls were outscored 31-20.
And although they would erase that deficit in the second quarter, the Bulls never overcame their slow start. Vučević finished with 29 points, more than one-quarter of the team’s points.
- Chicago native Anthony Davis scored a game-high 38 points, shooting 13-for-20 from the field and 11 of 14 from the free-throw line. He added 10 assists.
- LeBron James kicked into a different gear in the third quarter, hitting a pair of turnaround fadeaways over Zach LaVine despite the guard’s smothering defense and sparking an 11-4 run. James didn’t finish with an overwhelming stat line compared to with some of his more heroic nights — 25 points, seven rebounds, four assists — but his production fueled the Lakers in the second half.
- The Bulls gave up13 offensive rebounds and 29 second-chance points. Their struggles to protect the rim on the defensive end were intensified by the absence of backup center Andre Drummond, who missed the game for personal reasons.
- After a standout performance Sunday in his first game against his former team, Patrick Beverley struggled to keep pace on both ends of the court. He finished with a minus-32 — the lowest on either team — and logged zero points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one turnover. The performance was punctuated when Austin Reaves used Beverley’s own “too small” celebration on him after scoring a floater in the final minutes.
- The Bulls found their spark at the top of the second quarter, opening with 15-3 run as Vučević finally got some help. They ultimately overcame the early 17-point deficit, cutting the margin to one point when DeRozan picked off back-to-back steals and then tomahawk slammed a breakaway dunk with 8:38 remaining in the quarter. Despite trading leads near the end of the quarter, the Bulls never could pull ahead by more than three points.
- The Bulls scored 27 points off 16 turnovers as seven players registered a steal.
- With Beverley struggling to disrupt his former team, White stepped up defensively, drawing a charge on James in the fourth quarter. White was one of the most consistent Bulls players, logging 17 points, nine assists and a steal. DeRozan finished with 22 points and LaVine 16.
“Put the ball in the hole.”
— Beverley after the Bulls shot 27.3% (9-for-33) from 3-point range. They shot only 33% overall in the first quarter.
Alex Caruso (left foot) and Javonte Green (right knee) were available after being in and out of the lineup the last few weeks. But neither player was able to log their typical minutes. Caruso returned to the starting lineup but scored only five points in 19 minutes after Donovan felt he “didn’t look right” attempting to play through discomfort in the first half. Green entered in the fourth quarter to provide a burst of defensive energy but exited after 2½ minutes.
Where they stand
The Bulls (36-40) remained in the No. 10 spot in the Eastern Conference, two games in front of the Washington Wizards. But with only six games remaining, time is running out for them to catch the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors, both of whom are two games ahead at 38-38.
What comes next
The Bulls will travel to Charlotte, N.C., on Friday to play the Hornets.
Source: Read Full Article