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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.



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, 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 offense getting a boost from Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine

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