The Bulls have been swept by the league-worst (by record) Golden State Warriors after losing 100-98 on their home floor, Friday night. Observations from a tough loss:
Flashes of Lauri the Leader
The Bulls phased in and out of funks on both sides of the court for most of the first half, yet led 51-50 at the break. Credit Lauri Markkanen in large part for that.
Every time the game appeared to be slipping, it was Markkanen who snapped the Bulls back to attention. Trailing by four early in the first quarter, he had two strong drives and finishes to draw the game even. Then, after the Warriors began the second on a 16-5 run, Markkanen scored or assisted on 10 straight Bulls points to draw the game level. That’s leadership.
He finished the first quarter having taken seven shots, and the first half 7-for-11 (3-for-6 from three) and with a game-high 17 points. His teammates were clearly looking for him, and he thrived cutting and popping off on screen-and-roll.
The second half wasn’t as fruitful — he went almost two full quarters without scoring after a cutting dunk to knot the game at 41 midway through the second period. So has been his season.
In the fourth, he stroked a critical catch-and-shoot three to tie the game at 97 with just under four minutes left. Then, he turned the ball over on a travel and bricked a forced and contested 3-pointer.
Unusual Zach LaVine performance, and a stilted offense
LaVine didn’t get his first bucket until an and-one layup with 1:27 left in the second quarter. Then, he ripped off 21 in a seven-minute run spanning the end of that period and the beginning of the third. He finished the game with 22.
His most meaningful attempts of the game were two bricked iso-jumpers in the final minute, one with the game tied, one at the buzzer that would have won the game.
Final possession pic.twitter.com/GmgaRgHsWN— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 7, 2019
His six assists were a team-high, but that will be overshadowed by those late-game possessions and night-long inconsistency.
This was his first time in three games not eclipsing 10 free throw attempts. As a team, the Bulls attempted only five all night. The bench was up (Denzel Valentine, Coby White) and down (Luke Kornet, Ryan Arcidiacono). Wendell Carter and Tomas Satoransky combined for only 12 points on 12 attempts. That offensive passivity will be a storyline, as well.
The Bulls do the Warriors some favors, and the Warriors do just enough
The Bulls led the Warriors for most of this one — in the second half, Golden State didn’t lead until the 5:30 mark of the fourth.
But they did just enough to win — out-rebounding the Bulls 39-37, outshooting them on 17 less field goal attempts and going to the foul line a whopping 17 more times. Draymond Green was a beast defensively, and the difference-maker in the game. The Bulls defense generated some sparkplug turnovers early in the game — and got 20, by the end — but the stretch run was littered with defensive fouls, fumbled balls and more traveling violations.
The Bulls did them some favors, late. Boylen rolled entirely with the starters down the stretch and the offense stagnated. Questions there will start and end with LaVine, who waved off a Carter screen on the final possession. After a run of great fourth-quarter execution, a 15-point period tonight is dour.
Obligatory silver lining: Coby White delivered the full Coby White experience
There was a couple of fun Coby White mini-runs in this one that livened up the United Center.
In the first quarter, White had eight points by way of two threes (one a near buzzer-beater to end the period) and a turbo-charged drive past Kevon Looney on a mismatch for a finger-roll finish.
Rookie doing Rookie of the Year things pic.twitter.com/2WXAe27fDJ— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 7, 2019
He then opened the second with a miss on a contested step-back jumper and a(nother) failed poster-dunk attempt. He hasn’t punched one of those home yet, but Bulls fans seem to appreciate the gumption, regardless. Then, in the last two minutes of the third, he had two 3-pointers over the course of an 8-0 run to pull the Bulls ahead after a Warriors surge. The UC was buzzing.