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Bulls Didn’t “Learn How To Win” Against Knicks

Zach LaVine talked about his team finally finishing a close game, but the Bulls didn’t “learn how to win” against the Knicks. Not even close.

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bulls didn't learn how win against knicks

That Bulls game against the Knicks last night doesn’t deserve a closer look. It should be burned from our memories. Hard copies of box scores and game tape? Kill it all with fire. But, seeing as I need a distraction from the giant pit in my stomach as we wait for midterm results to start rolling in, what the hell. Let’s talk about it.

I’ve heard a lot of takes related to this young Bulls team – second youngest roster in the league, by the way – needing to “learn how to win.” “Find a way to finish games.” Zach LaVine talked about it after dropping a career-high 41 points in their double overtime win at Madison Square Garden last night. And I don’t blame him. It’s a common narrative for young teams, and they came to New York riding a four-game losing streak that included heartbreakers against Denver and Indiana. Games in which they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Blown 4th quarter leads. Head-scratching closing lineup choices by Fred Hoiberg and face-palming errors by his players.

Congratulations, guys! You finally pulled one out.

…Not for lack of trying to screw it up again.

I don’t want to hear anything about how last night’s win over a hapless and depleted Knicks team showed progress when it comes to “learning how to win.” Stop it. Shut it. It didn’t.

Let’s refresh our memories, shall we?

LaVine buries back to back three pointers to give the Bulls a 99-93 lead with just under three minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. A couple possessions later, the Bulls’ inability to get a defensive rebound (sound familiar?) has the Knicks within two. LaVine hits another three, and the lead is back to five. The Bulls defense gets a stop (what?? they did??) on the ensuing possession, and another bucket here would’ve likely ended it. What happens? LaVine turnover. One of many LaVine turnovers in the 4th quarter and overtime periods. Undrafted Allonzo Trier hits a wide-open three, and we’re tied.

Cameron Payne then took it upon himself to be the hero, but instead got completely stuffed on an isolation drive to the basket. Shocking. LaVine misses another shot on a second chance opportunity, and the Knicks have the ball for essentially the final possession. Thankfully for our incompetent Bulls, Trier missed a good look at a 17-footer that would’ve been the game winner. Mario Hezonja also missed a put-back attempt that would’ve won the game because hey guess what the Bulls can’t get a defensive rebound to save their lives. We go to overtime.

The Bulls should’ve won this game in regulation after LaVine gave them leads of 6 points with 3 minutes remaining and 5 points with 2 minutes remaining. But they choked.

I won’t go into equivalent levels of detail with the overtime periods, mostly because I don’t want to relive it that closely. This wasn’t a case of “free basketball!” No. This was a case of “dear god in heaven please don’t make us watch more of this garbage.” I’ll just rattle off a few things we saw in those extra frames:

-Jabari Parker has ball stolen by Mudiay

-Zach LaVine turnover for stepping out of bounds

-Robin Lopez turnover for throwing it out of bounds

-Jabari Parker missing an ill-advised three point attempt

-Jabari Parker turnover for stepping out of bounds

-Cam Payne inexplicably launching a three (which he bricked) immediately after an offensive rebound

-On what could’ve been the winning possession, LaVine steps out of bounds again

-Jabari Parker misses his favorite shot: a pull-up midrange jumper

-Cam Payne misses another three

-Another LaVine turnover

And that’s not even including some of the Bulls’ truly pathetic defensive possessions that allowed the inept Knicks to keep coming back.

No, our young Bulls did not get a “learn how to win” check mark last night. Quite the opposite. They did everything they could to lose that game. It just so happens that in a terrible basketball game filled with ugly mistakes, the Bulls happened to have the ball last and the Knicks made one more mistake. Yippee.

I want to know why Cam thought it was a good idea to try being the hero when Zach was cooking. Cam should not be allowed to have the ball in those late game situations. Speaking of which, hey Fred, why was Cam even on the floor late in this game? Why did he play FORTY ONE minutes to Ryan Arcidiacono’s 17? Better yet, why did you play Jabari FORTY TWO minutes in this game, including late into the 4th and both overtimes? Sure he got you some rebounds. You know who else could’ve gotten you those rebounds? Chandler Hutchison, who’s looking better and better.

Okay, I need to stop now. This was supposed to be a healing exercise to take my mind off the midterms. It did accomplish that for a brief moment, but now I’m all worked up about this stupid game.

IT WAS A STUPID GAME. It was a bad game. It was a “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” game. Kudos to Zach for a new career high, and kudos to him for making the game-winning drive and free throw. But the kudos stop there.

Hopefully at some point this season our young Bulls get that signature “learning how to win” result in a close game against a decent opponent. On the road? Well that would make it all the more impressive.

This ain’t it, Chief.

In addition to Locked On Bulls, Matt is the host of Bulls Outsiders on NBC Sports Chicago, which follows Bulls Postgame Live after every Bulls game. He also hosts The 312 on AM 1590 WCGO on Saturday afternoons, covering all 5 of Chicago's major teams. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Bleacher Report, NBA.com and FanRag Sports. The only things he loves more than Chicago sports are grilled meats and his adorable niece.

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Game Recap

Bulls fall to Mavericks, LaVine: “We have to have more energy”

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Do the Chicago Bulls have an energy and effort issue? - Locked On Bulls

Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys kick off the show breaking down the Chicago Bulls loss to the Dallas Mavericks last night, 103-98. The guys discuss the Bulls hanging around with the Mavericks despite a poor night shooting from their two best scorers. The guys talk about LaVine and Parker’s inefficient shooting night and how to solve the secondary scoring issues.

The guys talk about LaVine’s performance as the dominant ball handler this season, some flaws that need to be worked out, and what might change once Kris Dunn returns. Some other notable topics of discussion include poor three-point shooting against one of the leagues worst perimeter defense, forced shots by LaVine down the stretch, and Wendell Carter Jr.’s minutes/foul trouble.

Locked On Bulls has a discussion about reoccurring comments made by coach Fred Hoiberg and some players. LaVine had noted last night that the Bulls lacked energy, why has this continued to be the case? The guys discuss the Cavaliers and Mavericks game with lack of energy and why Portis/Dunn’s energy is clearly missing.

Other topics include The Ringer’s article on the creation of the Alan Parsons Project Bulls intro and what it meant to former players. Jordan brings up an elite class of players that Zach LaVine has joined this season. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.

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Game Preview

Bulls-Mavericks Betting Preview: LaVine, Doncic in for a big night?

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Bulls will need a huge night from Zach LaVine - Locked On Bulls

Both the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks are coming off Saturday night wins. Dallas knocked off a red-hot Oklahoma City Thunder squad and the Bulls squeeze past Cleveland in the final seconds.

The Bulls opened at a 1-point favorite but now come into tonight’s game against Dallas as a 1.5-point (-110) underdog, laying $110 dollars would net you $100. Chicago and Dallas have already faced off this season, Mavericks winning 115-109 but it was competitive throughout. Since then, the Bulls have lost Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis to their rotation but still managing a 4-6 record. The Mavericks have been quite the opposite, 2-7 since their win against the Bulls but have won two of their last three games.

As the injuries have piled up for the Bulls, Fred Hoiberg has been able to make a noticeable change in the way the Bulls are playing defense. Since their blow out loss to Golden State Warriors at home, the Bulls are fifth-best in the league in defensive rating at 103.6 in six games.

Bulls team defense has made strides but the offense has fallen off a cliff recently. Zach LaVine has been about the only reliable scorer for the Bulls, averaging 27.2 points per game and 20-points or more in the first 13 games this season. While Dallas may not be an offensive powerhouse, the Bulls are going to need secondary scoring to hang with the Mavericks Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr.

An advantage for the Bulls tonight, over the past six games the Mavericks have allowed opponents to shoot 40.8% (dead last) from three on 28.8 attempts. Justin Holiday (38.3%) and Zach LaVine (34.9%) are the Bulls main three-point threats (13.6 attempts) but look for Ryan Arcidiacono (52.8% on 3.0 attempts) and Antonio Blakeney (47.4% on 2.9 attempts) to potentially have big nights behind the line.

Whether you’re looking at trends, analytics, or even just the eye test when it comes to putting money down tonight, you may want to avoid the spread completely. Chicago is 8-5 this season against the spread and Dallas is 7-5. Both the Bulls and Mavericks are 1-2 against the spread coming off of wins this season.

Smart play for tonight tends to tell me to stay away from this one. If you have to make a play, the Bulls are 5-1 against the spread this season when they are a home underdog but an overall -6.0 margin of victory. Dallas has been worse, 0-2 as an away favorite with a margin of victory of -14.

Bulls-Mavericks Player Props

Zach LaVine – Points (25.5): LaVine has been an absolute stud of the Bulls this season. He has scored 20+ points in each of their first 13 games. The last time the Bulls played Dallas, LaVine had 34-points on 11/15 shooting. I like LaVine tonight at home, Dallas’ perimeter defense has been bad of recently. Look for LaVine to try and duplicate his five three-pointers against the Mavericks tonight.
Bet: Zach LaVine over 25.5 points (-115)

DeAndre Jordan – Points and Rebounds (23.5): Let’s get straight to it, DeAndre Jordan absolutely dominated against the Bulls earlier this season. He posted 18-points, 16-rebounds in a win. Jordan’s first six games he scored double-digit points and rebounds but in their last six games has one done it twice. Wesley Matthews is out tonight so Dallas will need another scoring option. The Bulls frontcourt has been dominated on the boards this year, look to Jordan for a big night again tonight.
Bet: DeAndre Jordan points and rebounds over 23.5 (-115)

Luka Doncic – Points (19.5): Over the past six games, Doncic is averaging 22-points per game. The Mavericks will be without their second leading scorer in Wesley Matthews. While the Bulls defense has taken strides to be better this season, Doncic could quite easily put up 20+ points tonight. While I don’t love it at -125, it might be the safest prop bet tonight.
Bet: Luka Doncic over 19.5 points (-125)

Justin Holiday – Points (11.5): Crazy I know, but Justin Holiday has been actually quite good behind the arc this season. I mentioned early how the Mavericks have been the worst team at defending the three over the past few weeks (40.8% on 28.8 attempts), this might not be a bad play. Holiday is shooting 43.5% from three at home this season as opposed to 33.3% on the road. LaVine will clearly be the first option on offense but after that becomes a question. Holiday is good for a heater once every 10 days or so, look for that tonight.
Bet: Justin Holiday over 11.5 points (-115)

All betting odds and lines were taken from Bovada.lv

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Game Recap

Bulls squeeze past Cavaliers with Jabari Parker block

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Zach LaVine drops 22 points, Jabari Parker makes game winning block - Locked On Bulls

Locked On Bulls is back from the weekend with a fresh episode, the guys kick off the show talking about the Bulls last-second win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The guys start with the most notable change, Cameron Payne being removed from the rotation completely. Have we seen the last minutes of Cameron Payne in a Bulls uniform? The guys break down what the change looked like and whether or not it helped the Bulls win on Saturday. How did reserve point guard Shaq Harrison look Saturday night?

The Bulls continue to be destroyed on the boards but managed to make one less mistake against the Cavaliers in clutch time. The guys get into the final few possessions, Jabari Parker’s last-second block, and according to analytics, how Parker has actually been a solid defender in clutch time. So, is it about effort with Parker? The guys also make mention of Zach LaVine’s 360-degree dunk, some fun transition points in the first half, and how you blow a 16-point lead on a depleted Cavaliers team.

Locked On Bulls previews tonight’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks. What are some keys to the game for the Chicago Bulls? The Bulls are 0-1 against the Mavericks this season. The guys discuss turnovers, Luka Doncic, Wendell Carter Jr. vs. DeAndre Jordan, and where are the secondary scorers at?

To wrap up, the guys discuss Jimmy Butler being traded to the Philadelphia 76er’s. How will that impact the Eastern Conference, will he sign long-term, and is it the end of Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota? All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.

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