What to watch for: Bulls look for bounce back win over Hornets

What to watch for: Bulls look for bounce back win over Hornets

Saturday night, the Bulls travel to Charlotte for the second time this season, in search of a bounceback win. The game tips at 6 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago — until then, here's what to watch for:

Bulls need a bounce back

And that might be an understatement. Anyone hoping that getting trounced on their home floor by Toronto, lackluster losses to the shorthanded Nets and Pacers, or blowing late-game leads to the Knicks and these Hornets would represent early-season low points were dealt a dose of cruel reality last night.

Things are bad in Chicago right now, and a loss — or any additional controversy — coming out of this game could push the team past the point of no return. 

It would be disingenuous not to zero in on Zach LaVine as the person on the team most in need of a breakout performance. In the month of November, LaVine is averaging 19.2 points and four assists per game on 39.4% shooting and a paltry 4.2 free-throw attempts per game. On the season, he has had four games with a positive plus-minus, and is last on the team with a -90 overall plus-minus. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Bulls are 12.6 points per 100 possessions better defensively with LaVine off the floor.

In addition to last night, Boylen has yanked LaVine from games twice early on in the season — in Nov. 3’s loss to the Pacers and in Nov. 16’s loss to the Nets. LaVine stats in the two games that succeeded those incidents:

Nov. 5 vs. LAL: 26 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 9-for-18 shooting (3-for-7 from three)

Nov. 18 vs. MIL: 11 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 4-for-16 shooting (2-for-7 from three)

It’s worth monitoring the level of intensity he comes out with tonight.

Catching a bad team at the right time

No game is guaranteed for this group right now, but for what it’s worth, they’re catching Charlotte at the right time.

In their last nine games (they’re 2-7 over that stretch), the Hornets have an offensive rating of 103.4 (28th, Bulls rank 30th) a defensive rating of 112.8 (22nd) and a net rating of -9.4 (27th). In the first matchup between these two, the Hornets shot absolutely lights out from three, setting a franchise record with 23 three-pointers made, but the Bulls outplayed them in most other appreciable categories.

The hope for the Bulls is that if they can close out with a little more urgency (big if) and that number naturally regresses, they can find an edge in this one. But beware of resting on laurels if Chicago gets out to a fast start; we all remember the late-game collapse on opening night that set the tone for a morbund start to the season.

Lauri Markkanen vs. PJ Washington

In Markkanen and Washington are two young forwards going in different directions. Markkanen’s struggles are well-documented, but his best game of the season remains his 35-point performance against the Hornets in the first game of the season. Markkanen shot 1-for-7 from deep in that game, making a habit of creating offense for himself with a number of aggressive drives and cuts. The Bulls have been searching for that version of Markkanen consistently — shooting struggles aside — since that night.

Maybe a return to Buzz City will provide a spark.

Washington, on the other hand, has settled in nicely to a complementary role in the Hornets starting lineup, serving as one of a host of surprise rookies taking the league by storm. He’s currently shooting 49% from three (qualifier: on only 3.1 attempts per game) — but, per Cleaning the Glass, that’s in the 96th percentile of players at his position. 

Bulls fans will remember the last time these two teams squared off, when Washington set a record for three-pointers in an NBA debut with seven:


Chandler Hutchison upgraded

More on this as it develops, but getting Hutchison back would be a stroke of good fortune for a Chicago team wanting on the defensive end, especially against a Charlotte team that’s marginal talent is concentrated on the wing.

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Bulls Talk Podcast: NBA All-Star 2020 weekend recap and Bulls front office changes?


Bulls Talk Podcast: NBA All-Star 2020 weekend recap and Bulls front office changes?

NBA All-Star weekend in Chicago was a massive success and will be remembered for years to come. Tony Gill is joined by Rob Schaefer to recap everything that went on in the city during All-Star weekend. Later, they discuss the reporter rumors that the Bulls are ready to change things up in the front office.

(0:56) - Experiencing All-Star weekend in Chicago

(5:00) - Stories of All-Star weekend

(11:00) - NBA doesn't fear change of the norm

(18:00) - Should Derrick Rose have been more a part of All-Star weekend?

(24:00) - Bulls are rumored to be changing the front office

(34:00) - Will the Bulls find the best candidate possible?

(40:00) - Which Bulls to watch for in the last stretch of the NBA season

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Bulls Talk Podcast


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Recap of the NBA 2020 All-Star game in Chicago


SportsTalk Live Podcast: Recap of the NBA 2020 All-Star game in Chicago

David Haugh, Alex Maragos and Chris Bleck join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The NBA All-Star Game is over and the city was the biggest star of the weekend. The guys weigh in on the thrilling finish and if the rule changes saved the All-Star game.

5:30 - Michael Jordan was not in the "House That MJ Built." Should his Airness have had more of a presence?

9:00 - Michael Reinsdorf and John Paxson spent the weekend asking some of the sport's heavy hitters about how to fix their front office. Will the changes work?

13:00 - Jesse Rogers joins Kap from Cubs camp in Mesa to talk about Javy Baez's comments about not being ready to play some days. They also discuss Kris Bryant's candid comments about his contract and his future with the Cubs.

18:00 - The guys weigh in on Tom Rickett's comments on the state of the team's baseball budget.

26:00 - Chuck Garfien joins Kap from Sox camp in Glendale. They talk about the excitement level with everybody in camp, the team's thoughts on the Astros scandal, the chances Nick Madrigal breaks camp with the team and the Carlos Rodon's progress from Tommy John surgery.

Listen here or in the embedded player below.


Sports Talk Live Podcast