Pain. Also snow.
• More often than not, when a team suffers a buzzer-beater, heart-breaking loss like the Bulls did last night, it’s easy to chalk it up to several mistakes. And, sure, the Bulls were down 19 at one point to a depleted Blazers team and allowed 26 points off 15 turnovers, but I think it’s fair to say they still deserved to win. The team fought back strong, shot the ball well (50.6 FG%, 46.7 3PT), flashed some great ball movement (30 assists), and actually put together a couple of solid defensive stops in the final couple of minutes. Every starter besides Gafford scored in double-figures, with Lauri Markkanen scoring a season-high 31 points, Coby White bouncing back strong with 20 points and 6 assists, and Zach LaVine having another great all-around night with 26 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.
• The Bulls, instead, simply got sucker-punched and kicked in the groin by the refs. Lillard dropped two ridiculous 3’s in the final 9 seconds, both of which the Bulls defended fine. The only reason Lillard got the chance to shoot his second shot, though, is because the refs wanted to see it go in. Chicago inbounded the ball to Zach LaVine with roughly 8 seconds to go, and he was immediately grabbed by two Blazers defenders. Nine times out of 10, the refs call the foul. Last night, they called a jump ball. How absurd is that? Take it away, Billy: “I don’t even know if necessarily he (LaVine) ended up looking for anybody because there was such a quick jump ball called. I mean, it was about as quick of a jump ball as I’ve ever seen, and you can’t challenge that. I didn’t think it was really a good call at that point in time. I get tie-ups, but they just kinda like grabbed the ball, and then she just called jump-ball.”
Just two NBA players intentionally fouling at the end of a game they’re losing
hope the refs get the call right pic.twitter.com/p3mtbFZ9On
— Artūras Karnišovas Fan Club (@arturasfanclub) January 31, 2021
• Hm, what about your thoughts, Zach? “It was a quick whistle. There’s a lot of things you can’t control. But it happened. I didn’t think it was a jump ball. I didn’t think they had their hands on the ball. But it was called. So that’s the way the game goes” (via NBC Sports Chicago).
• If the L2m report reverses the call later today, it will be the second time this season the league admits to ripping away a W from the Bulls. The same thing happened at the end of the Golden State Warriors game when the refs missed a (1) seven-second call during the inbound pass that led to the game-winning 3 and (2) an illegal off-ball screen on that same play. Look, I know there are missed calls all the time, and I know the Bulls are sometimes a beneficiary of those calls. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that those missed or wrong calls have been made at vital moments against Chicago multiple times this season. Also, let’s not kid ourselves, the refs are always going to give Dame the whistle over Zach.
• RESPECT LAVINE, DAMN IT.
Zach LaVine last night:
✅ 26 PTS
✅ 7 REB
✅ 4 AST
✅ 9-12 FG
✅ 6-8 3P
LaVine had seven games in which he scored 25+ points with a 75+ TS% in January.
That ties Charles Barkley (March 1988) for the most such games in a calendar month in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/0vc5AatncF
— Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) January 31, 2021
• Welp, this sure doesn’t make me feel any better.
Damian Lillard's shot last night was the first time a jump ball and a game-winning buzzer-beater occurred on the same possession inside the final 10 seconds since April 30, 2006.
Kobe Bryant hit the game-winning buzzer-beater to beat the Suns.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 31, 2021
• Hindsight is 20/20. I don’t blame, Billy.
Bulls had a timeout left. Billy Donovan said in hindsight he wished he had used it on that last tieup of LaVine, although Donovan added he thought it was a quick jump ball call.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 31, 2021
• From one basketball junkie to another, I recommend you give Steve Jones Jr. a follow on Twitter. Some great threads on all kinds of games around the league.
LaVine in P&R again vs. Blazers trap. Knows it's coming so takes one dribble and hits Thad on the short roll. Really nice play from Thad to look corner but hit Markkanen on the wing. pic.twitter.com/bRVmvkA74x
— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) January 31, 2021
• The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry talked #stonks. He gives each player on the Bulls roster a trending up or down evaluation in his latest column, and it makes for a great read. I’d say he pretty much hits everything right on the head, and the only thing I would offer a little pushback on his “no change” declaration for Markkanen. The Finnisher has played some of the team’s best basketball when on the court this year, as he continues to shake off the lack of confidence Jim Boylen drilled into him last season. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from downtown and his points per shot attempt (131.4) sit in the 84th percentile after never reaching above the 36th percentile in his previous three seasons, per Cleaning the Glass. He still might not have the rim-protecting and rebounding chops the Bulls would like to see from a seven-footer, but he is playing far more aggressively on both ends. I like what I’ve seen, and compared to last season, I think he is trending in the right direction.
• Ok, this is still a big problem for LaVine, but one of those turnovers is considered the jump ball so … whatever.
Zach LaVine is the first Bulls player with at least 6 turnovers in 3 straight games since Elton Brand in February 2000.
— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) January 31, 2021