It’s a nice story, to be sure.
Adam Mokoka’s mother arrived from France Thursday to watch her son, who is on a two-way contract, score his first NBA points. They came amid a flurry of baskets — 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting in just 5 minutes, 7 seconds — that whittled the Pelicans’ 27-point lead down to four with 6.1 seconds left.
In fact, since the start of the shot-clock era in 1954-55, no player had ever scored 15 or more points in as little playing time.
But in the grand scheme of things, Mokoka’s performance mostly served as an indictment of how banged up and lifeless the Bulls looked for the majority of the 125-119 loss that dropped them a season-low 15 games under .500.
“That game was over by then in my book. I don’t know what we were cheering for. I’m happy for Adam. But that game was over,” Zach LaVine said. “We lost, got our ass whooped.”
Kudos to LaVine for calling it straight.
Yes, the Bulls are banged up and shorthanded. Yes, the dog days of the season are here, with just two games before the All-Star break.
But in allowing a 70-point first half for the third time this season and letting the Pelicans get comfortable to the tune of 56.3 percent shooting, they played like a broken bunch. They now have lost four straight.
“I thought we weren’t not trying,” coach Jim Boylen said. “I thought they were better than us offensively.”
The Bulls aren’t playing competitive basketball but this is still a huge stretch in this most underwhelming of seasons.
The trade deadline passed with no activity. Players who wanted out like Denzel Valentine are still here. According to executive vice president John Paxson, reinforcements in the form of players returning from injury aren’t coming until the end of the month.
“I mean, everybody wants to play for a contender,” Thaddeus Young said. “But at the end of the day, I didn't think too much about [the deadline]. I just continued to move on with my day.
“You know, it's been plenty of times where I've been talked about as far as being traded and it didn't happen. It's been a couple times where I have been traded and I talked about it. And it didn't change anything. It doesn't change who I am as a person. It doesn't change what I'm out there to do. I'm here to do a job and like I said, whatever franchise I'm playing for at the time, I'm gonna do that job.”
The Bulls’ final, furious flurry came during mop-up minutes. That energy needs to be present more often, ideally from the first unit, especially until reinforcements return.
LaVine, once again, offered some sobering reality.
“At the beginning of the year, we lost games and we had everybody,” he said.
Indeed, the projected lineup of Tomas Satoransky, LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. stumbled to a 3-6 start against an allegedly soft portion of the schedule.
Right now, 3-6 would be progress for these banged-up Bulls.
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