Zach LaVine has lost a lot since coming to Chicago. Friday night represented perhaps as dejected a postgame demeanor as he has presented as a Bull.
“We straight up folded,” LaVine said. “There’s not a lot to talk about.”
But there’s plenty to analyze from the Bulls’ 127-125 overtime loss to the Thunder, which, according to ESPN Stats & Info, marked just the second time in 2,932 instances over the last five seasons that a team blew a 10-point lead in the final two minutes of regulation.
“I mean, we’re up 20 points,” LaVine said. “We have to win that game.”
Twenty-two, actually, in the third quarter. And by 14 with 4:09 remaining in regulation. And by 10 with 1:47 left.
As painful as the competitive losses in Los Angeles to the Lakers and Clippers were, the Bulls have to be careful this one doesn’t leave a lasting mark.
“This one should hurt,” Lauri Markkanen said.
With 24 turnovers, the Bulls now own three of the NBA’s 10 games this season with 22 or more turnovers. After a stellar first half in which they posted 17 assists to seven turnovers, the Bulls had 18 field goals and 17 turnovers in the second half and overtime.
“We just have to do a better job as an entire organization, because we can’t lose games like that. We’ve lost a lot of games this year where we’ve been playing well. Our fourth-quarter execution has to get better. And I take that upon myself. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the fourth quarter,” LaVine said. “It’s extremely frustrating. Somehow, some way, even if you play bad, you gotta pull those games out.”
When there’s an epic collapse of this proportion, there’s plenty of blame to share. To wit:
- LaVine committed one of his six turnovers at that fateful 4:09 mark to start the bleeding
- Wendell Carter Jr. fouled Mike Muscala on a 3-point attempt with 1:47 left in regulation, leading to three made free throws that trimmed the Thunder’s 10-point deficit
- Coby White and Lauri Markkanen committed offensive fouls, the latter while setting a screen with 26.9 seconds left that led to the Thunder tying possession
- White fouled Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the tying 3-point play with 16.4 seconds left
- LaVine had to hoist a contested 3-pointer at the end of regulation after the Thunder blew up a middle pick-and-roll involving Otto Porter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen
- The Bulls repeatedly had trouble matching up with shooters in transition, and Muscala burned them for a 3-pointer to open overtime
- For the third time this season, the Bulls didn’t have a timeout late, so LaVine rushed upcourt after George Hill split two free throws with 5.2 seconds left to try a 3-pointer for the win. Unfortunately, Denzel Valentine ran alongside LaVine, bringing an extra defender into play.
“I think these guys are smart guys,” Donovan said. “They know a lot of this stuff is self-induced.”
The Bulls have very little margin of error. Their 4-8 record, and Friday’s monstrous collapse, is evidence.
“This is a hard-working group; it's a good group of guys,” Donovan said. “They want to win. They don't know how to. They're learning how to.
“We've all got to pull together and work together and try to figure it out because this has been something these guys have dealt with for a while. I'm 12 games into this with them. And as a coach, you feel bad. You want to be able to do more, and I've got to try and find some different ways to try and help them as a group.”