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.
Bulls offense getting a boost from Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine
Coming into last night’s game, head coach Jim Boylen let the media know that the Bulls were had the best offensive rating in the NBA over the last five games.
On today’s episode of Locked On Bulls, Matt goes solo and breaks down the Bulls’ Monday night loss to the East-leading Milwaukee Bucks.
The conversation starts with a close look at the way Zach LaVine has increased his assist numbers while maintaining his efficient scoring streak and his growing chemistry with Lauri Markkanen. Matt notes the poor shooting night from Lauri Markkanen but discussed the ways in which the Finnish kid positively affected the game despite the 6-21 shooting. Notably, his continued success grabbing rebounds, and his willingness to put the ball on the floor to jump-start transition offense opportunities after corralling boards.
In the second segment, Matt discusses Jim Boylen’s latest attempt at a small-ball lineup from last night, which saw Otto Porter Jr. getting minutes at the 5. With Cristiano Felicio essentially being unusable in an NBA game, Boylen has started to use more small looks with Markkanen and now Porter at the center position for certain stretches. Unfortunately, the Bulls are so weak in their second unit that the Porter-Luwawu-Harrison-Selden-Arcidiacono experiment last night looked awful. But when the Bulls hopefully add some better depth to this roster, they should – with or without Boylen – continue to experiment with these small-ball kinds of lineups.
And finally, Matt wraps up the show questioning the latest head-scratching decision by Boylen and his staff to let an injured player keep playing. Kris Dunn took a nasty fall and landed on his backside. Despite being invisibly serious pain and taking a trip to the locker room, Dunn came back into the game in the 4th quarter. He looked immobile. Why was he out there? It’s yet another example on the heels of Zach LaVine playing through a re-aggravated ankle sprain and Chandler Hutchison fighting through 41 minutes with a broken toe. For a team with just 13 wins nearing the All-Star break, Matt asks: what is the point of this, and why is no one telling Boylen to stop?
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.
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.
Did Bulls show some spirit and passion after brawl, blowout vs. Thunder?
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.
- What will year two bring for Wendell Carter Jr.? April 3, 2019
- Bulls inch closer to a pivotal off-season, who will stick around? April 1, 2019
- Bulls crawling to the finish line as injuries, losses pile up March 27, 2019
- How does Zach LaVine compare to other Most Improved Player candidates? March 26, 2019
- Bulls fall flat in loss to the Jazz and March Madness recap March 25, 2019
What will year two bring for Wendell Carter Jr.?
On today's Locked On Bulls podcast, one of their conversations centered around Wendell Carter Jr.'s second year with the Bulls....
Bulls inch closer to a pivotal off-season, who will stick around?
Locked On Bulls is back from the weekend and the guys have a handful of conversations that surround the off-season...
Bulls crawling to the finish line as injuries, losses pile up
Locked On Bulls Podcast recaps last night's loss to the Toronto Raptors, talks about Lauri Markkanen leaving the game in...
How does Zach LaVine compare to other Most Improved Player candidates?
Returning in his first full season since ACL surgery, Zach LaVine has put together an impressive season for the Bulls....
Bulls fall flat in loss to the Jazz and March Madness recap
Locked On Bulls podcast recaps an ugly loss to the Utah Jazz, highlights some of the best performances from NBA...