The Bulls dropped the front-end of their home-and-home back-to-back in an 83-73 loss to the Hornets. Both teams shot poorly, but Charlotte pulled away down the stretch. Observations:
Thad Young watch
For obvious reasons, Thad Young’s minutes allotment will continue to be a topic of conversation, at least for the near future. Tonight, he first checked in at the 4:38 mark of the first quarter, subbing for Lauri Markkanen (who re-entered the game for Wendell Carter Jr. 31 game seconds later).
Young then stayed on the floor for 11:09 consecutive game minutes. Over that stretch, he scored four points, snagged one rebound and shot 2-for-6 from the field. He finished the night with 10 points and five rebounds on 5-for-13 shooting in 26 minutes, 33 seconds of play. Other than Zach Lavine, Young was the only player to see more than 26 minutes of game action.
The Hornets frontcourt was dominant
Nine games ago, the Hornets slid Bismack Biyombo into their starting rotation (in place of Cody Zeller) to improve their subpar team presence in the paint — they entered play tonight 28th in the league in defensive rebounding rate (70.5%) and opponent points in the paint per game (51.8).
The Bulls have had similar struggles this season. Biyombo and the rest of the Hornets exposed them. Biyombo led all scorers with 12 points in the first half, also grabbing six rebounds (three offensive). He finished with 12, but also with nine rebounds. P.J. Washington (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Cody Zeller (11 points, 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles.
Overall, the Hornets outrebounded the Bulls by a staggering 60-45 margin on the evening. That number was certainly a difference-maker.
A sluggish offensive performance
And that might be putting it lightly. The Bulls missed their first seven shots of this one, finished the first quarter shooting 28% from the field (1-for-8 from three) and the first half shooting 32.6% (4-for-15 from three). A lot of those misses were open.
Luckily, they ran into a sluggish opponent tonight, as well, and the Bulls hung around. The Hornets led by as many as 15 in the first half but entered the third quarter shooting only 35.7% from the field (2-for-18 from three). An 11-2 run led by the Bulls starters over the final three-and-a-half minutes of the second brought the score to within 44-40 at the break.
Are dunks supposed to look this effortless? 🛫 pic.twitter.com/QcPeb36657— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 14, 2019
But, somehow, it got worse. The Bulls shot 4-for-22 (18.2%) in the third quarter and saw the Hornets’ lead swell to 59-50 entering the fourth. For those of you keeping track at home, Charlotte won the third quarter by a margin of 15-10. One of those nights.
The teams combined to shoot 13-for-65 from 3-point range, and the Bulls shot only 30% from the field — the first team to shoot 30% or under from the field since... The Bulls, on Oct. 26 against the Raptors.
Fourth quarter fizzle
There were sparks of a rally at various points throughout the quarter. The Bulls pulled to within 66-64 after opening the quarter on a 14-7 run — sparked in large part by a four-point Ryan Arcidiacono sequence in which he canned a fadeaway midrange jumper, then stole the inbounds pass and drew two free throws on a layup attempt. Arcidiacono closed the game along with Tomas Satoransky, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Carter.
Unlike these teams' past two meanings, though, there were no fourth-quarter fireworks in store. Both teams were sloppy — the Hornets turned the ball over 21 times — but Devonte' Green (six fourth-quarter points), Miles Bridges and the Hornets did enough down the stretch to stave a comeback attempt off. Boos cascaded down in the game's closing seconds. It's a tough way to open a back-to-back that features the Clippers tomorrow.
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