The Chicago Bulls were so thoroughly trounced on Monday by the Indiana Pacers that the result rendered in-depth analysis somewhat secondary.
In suffering just their second double-digit loss this season, a 32-point dismantling at home, the Bulls were without starting center Nikola Vučević (health and safety protocols) and reserve guard Alex Caruso (ankle), who rank fourth and fifth on the roster in average minutes.
And while their absence was clearly felt, it shouldn't serve as a lazy explanation for why the Bulls were non-competitive against Indiana.
"You play with the hand you're dealt," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. "Guys go down. That's part of it and everybody has dealt with it. Anytime you have a guy like Vooch or Alex out it hurts your team. That's part of it. But you still have a standard and expectation you want to play to, and I don't think we did that on a consistent enough basis."
The Bulls might be without both players again when they visit Houston to play the Rockets on Wednesday.
First and foremost for Chicago entering the contest is bouncing back from the drubbing to the Pacers and taking into account all the lessons that can be gleaned from such a beat down.
"I do think what we learn from this and how we respond to this is really important because we can talk about all the things that happened, but the reality is we're jumping on a plane and going to Houston," Donovan said. "How do we get from here to there in terms of becoming a better team? That's the way I would look at it."
The Rockets dropped their 15th consecutive game Monday in Boston, falling 108-90 to conclude a four-game road trip that started the previous Monday in Memphis.
Houston coach Stephen Silas noted that fatigue might have played a role in what was another poor shooting performance from the perimeter by the Rockets, with Houston missing 31 of 42 3-pointers.
Houston concluded Monday ranked 28th in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 30.9 percent, a figure negatively impacted by the Rockets' shooting during their swing through Memphis, Oklahoma City, New York and Boston. The Rockets shot just 44 of 161 (27.3 percent) on 3s on their road trip, with Boston implementing an effective defensive game plan that limited the Rockets' touches in the paint.
"There were definitely some overhelp situations where they were daring us to shoot the outside shot," Silas said. "They were really packing the paint."
The Rockets face myriad issues, a fact illustrated by their league-worst record. Lacking the confidence to step into and convert quality shots will only exacerbate what ails the Rockets, with turnovers and missed free throws atop their list and wayward perimeter shooting not far behind.
"We've got to be ready to shoot the ball," Silas said. "I thought there were times where we weren't necessarily ready to shoot and we would shot fake and then drive. We've got to shoot the one that's open. We've got to shoot the one that they give us."