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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

Boylen’s Bulls were supposed to be filled with spirit and passion…

The Bulls were booed off their home floor last night for the third time under Jim Boylen in a 112-84 loss to the Magic.

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Jim Boylen's Bulls were suppose to be filled with spirit and passion - Locked On Bulls

Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys kick off the show talking about the Bulls and Orlando Magic last night. A discussion about how things spiral out of control, the lack of offense, and making the Magic look like one of the best teams in the East. The guys talk about a solid first half for Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, and Zach LaVine – who shot 12-20 from the field and lead the team in scoring. The guys talk about Boylen’s lineup choices, needing to see Hutchison more, and why Carter was benched last night.

Are the Bulls playing Holiday and Robin Lopez more over the last few weeks to increase trade value? The guys talk about how Jabari Parker was not used even in a blow out last night and what Boylen said he plans to do going forward. Should Bulls fans be concerned with the way Carter is playing right now? Jim Boylen explains why he thinks you can learn more from sitting on the bench than playing in the game. The guys compare Carter’s numbers under Hoiberg and Boylen so far this season.

In a small sample size, Kris Dunn has shown improvement finishing at the rim this season. Locked On Bulls discusses his jump in numbers, what he needs to improve on, and how Boylen will use him will be key to his success.

Locked On Bulls talks about how the players are reacting to Boylen’s style, how night’s like last night is about as bad as the loss to the Celtics. If the Bulls continue to lose games at a high rate it may bring a top pick but will also come with some consequences. To wrap up the show, the guys talk about LeBron James’ comments on being the greatest player of all time. The guys compare that to when Michael Jordan was asked in 2009 about calling himself the goat. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.

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Game Recap

Did Bulls show some spirit and passion after brawl, blowout vs. Thunder?

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Bulls-Thunder spills over into near brawl, Robin Lopez ejected - Locked On Bulls

Locked On Bulls is back with a fresh episode, the guys have plenty to talk about after being off on Monday. The guys get to last night’s Bulls-Thunder game in which tension boiled over into a near brawl. The guys break down who really started it, Robin Lopez getting in the mix and eventually ejected, and Jim Boylen right in the middle. Did the Bulls show spirit and passion by fighting back or is this eyewash for toughness?

They start first with the Bulls 21-point comeback win against Jim Boylen idol’s San Antonio Spurs. How the Bulls dug themselves such a hole and were able to climb out of it. Does Kris Dunn have the clutch gene? Yes? No? Too early to tell? The guys break down Markkanen and Dunn’s performance being able to get them back into the game.

Locked On Bulls has a conversation about the Bulls advanced metrics, how they stack up during the Boylen Era vs. the rest of the NBA. The guys talk about the usage of Wendell Carter Jr., his first-half foul trouble leading the NBA, and some explanation on why it might be happening.

The weekend brought rumors about the Bulls taking calls on Jabari Parker from as many as 15 teams according to sources. Are the guys buying 15 teams being interested? Will the Bulls be willing to talk on bad money? Probably not, they also talk about the most likely team involved in talks and how a buyout with Parker is still the most realistic option. To wrap up the show, the guys talk about quotes from Gar Forman in the LA Times. All of this and so much more on Locked On Bulls.

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Game Recap

Bulls snap seven game losing streak in win over Thunder

It took a Lauri Markkanen game-winner to snap a seven-game losing streak and earn Jim Boylen his first win as head coach.

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Bulls win on Lauri Markkanen game win vs. Thunder - Locked On Bulls

Jim Boylen got his 1st win as an NBA head coach Friday night in his home opener with the team. The Bulls edged out the Thunder 114-112 thanks to a game winning bucket by Lauri Markkanen.

All eyes were on Markkanen last night as Zach LaVine handed the ball off to him with under ten seconds to go in the game. Markkanen spun off Paul George, driving down the ride side of the lane before hitting a game winning hook shot. The shot gave the Bulls their first win since November 21st.

Along with a game winner, the athletic 7-footer put up 24 points, shooting 8 for 12 from the field. 12 of these points came from four threes on just eight attempts. Markkanen also had 7 boards, 3 steals, 2 assists and a block in just 28 minutes. Markkanen hurt his elbow due to incidental contact on a screen in the second half of the game, but continued to play. He told 670 The Score‘s Cody Westerlund that his elbow felt “tender”, but did not express any worry, according to Westerlund.

Zach LaVine lead all scorers in Friday night’s game in Chicago with 25. He shot 10 of 18 from the floor while adding 7 assists to his stat sheet in 36 minutes. LaVine did struggle taking care of the ball, turning it over nine times. His turnover total was the second most in the game, thanks to Thunder guard and former MVP Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook’s triple-double wasn’t enough for the 3rd best team in the NBA. While Westbrook did have 24 points, he shot just 9 for 21 from the field and 2 for 6 from deep. The All-Star point guard had 13 assists while hauling in a game-leading 17 rebounds in 35 minutes played. The high-flying MVP was shocked, however, when the 19-year-old Bulls rookie, Wendell Carter Jr. stuffed one of his signature tomahawk dunk attempts late in the fourth quarter.

Thunder center Steven Adams notched his 11th double-double of the season last night in the loss to the Bulls. The New Zealander had 21 points along with 10 boards in 31 minutes played.

All-Star small forward, Paul George also filled the stat sheet with 19 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals in 36 minutes. He shot poorly, however, going 6 of 16 from the floor.

While a lot of credit should go to Markkanen for this win, it was an all around good performance for the Bulls. The team shot 52.4% from the field and 48% from deep. What’s most intriguing about the win is that the opposition wasn’t a bad team. The last two teams the Bulls beat were the Phoenix Suns and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both of these teams are last in their respective conferences. Boylen and the Bulls beat a Thunder team that is currently tied for 3rd in the NBA in win percentage. The Bulls have undoubtedly been playing bad basketball, but a head coaching change and a semi-healthy roster might be what this team needed to finally stack some wins.

The Bulls face another tough assignment tomorrow night as the Boston Celtics come to town in what will be the team’s 2nd matchup with the Bulls. The Celtics have been hot winning their last four games.

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