The Bulls have been competitve at times in this the first season of their post-Jimmy Butler rebuild.
They've taken the 7-6 New Orelans Pelicans to overtime. They were up one on the Cavaliers heading into the fourth quarter last month. Furious comebacks against the Spurs and Raptors came up just short.
Yes, the Bulls are 2-9 but have looked better than that at times.
Saturday night in San Antonio was not one of those times.
The Bulls allowed the Spurs to shoot 60 percent, make 18 3-pointers and assist on 33 baskets in their 133-94 loss. This was a Spurs team playing without the following players: Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
Yes, Gregg Popovich is a wizard and could throw any five players in Spurs uniforms and win 50 games. But it was more so about the total lack of effort the Bulls showed.
They trailed 22-6 midway through the first quarter and then 37-15 after the full quarter. The Spurs had the Bulls doubled up in points 17 minutes into the game (50-25).
A solid Bulls comeback saw that lead trickle down to 10, at 55-45. But that was the end of the fun. The Spurs ended the quarter on a 7-2 run and finished the third quarter with a 27-point lead. Their reserves outscored the Bulls by 12 in the final quarter, and a meaningless Kris Dunn jumper from the right baseline was all that kept the Bulls from a 40-point L.
Some days the rebuild is going to look like this. The Bulls simply had no answer, and the Spurs offense was humming. It's too bad, too, considering the offense actually looked solid at times. The Bulls finished shooting 46 percent from the floor, Bobby Portis scored 17 points and Cris Felicio looked decent for the first time all year.
Then again, the Bulls also had some of the worst turnovers of the year, including Portis traveling right before he handed the ball off to the Spurs. So, at least it wasn't of the live-ball variety.
Some days it's simply not going to be enough. And it wasn't nearly enough against an angry Spurs team that had lost to the Bucks at home the night before. Toss this one away and get ready for the next opportunity to grow.
Adding injury to insult, rookie Lauri Markkanen missed the entire second half after spraining his ankle in the closing seconds of the second quarter.
Markkanen slipped on the floor while defending a Rudy Gay layup attempt and was seen limping around after the play. He limped his way to the locker room and was ruled out shortly after halftime.
There's obviously no real reason to rush Markkanen back, as getting him healthy with no potential for re-injury should be the Bulls' top priority. His status for Wednesday is unknown, but it's nice that he'll have three rest days to get better. Slipping on the floor has resulted in nasty injuries over the years, so it looks like Markkanen dodged a bullet in some respect.
He finished with 6 points and 2 rebounds. It was the first time in his young NBA career he hadn't recorded double-digit points or a 3-pointer in a game.
Bobby Portis looks the part again
OK, so he was a -23 in 30 minutes. But then again, no Bulls player who finished the game was better than a -11, so we won't fault him there.
But if you want a positive from Saturday night's beatdown, Bobby Portis put together another nice performance.
He shot just 5-for-11 from the field, but that included a pair of 3-point makes and he also got to the free throw line five times (he made all five). Portis also grabbed six rebounds, and while he did have three turnovers it was another solid showing for him.
In three game Portis is now averaging 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 19.8 minutes. The 30 minutes were a season-high, and a number he reached only five times last season. It's clear Fred Hoiberg is going to give Portis serious run this season, and if Markkanen needs to miss any time recovering from his sprained ankle Portis could be in line for some serious minutes and shot attempts.
No one played well for the read team tonight, but at least Portis showed some production in the raw numbers department.