I was so darn close.
About 40 minutes before tonight’s tip-off, I hopped on 670 The Score with Gabe Ramirez to talk about the season and this matchup with the Pelicans. At the end of the conversation, he asked me for my prediction, and I said something along the lines of … “This will be a fun and close game. While both have struggled to finish their tight battles this season, the Bulls will be the ones to edge things out in front of their home crowd.”
The first sentence was spot on. The second sentence? Not so much.
Chicago and New Orleans traded leads up until the final minute of the ballgame. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine played like the All-Star duo they are, while Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson did the same. Unfortunately, though, it was the latter that prevailed with the game on the line.
Ingram hit several clutch baskets down the stretch, whereas DeRozan saw the basketball fly off his foot during the Bulls’ most pivotal possession of the game. It was another perfect example of how small the margin for error is for this Bulls team, as they continue to let self-inflicted wounds end games on a sour note.
With all that said, I’m not going to lie to you, I think the officiating may have decided that game. No one is saying the Bulls don’t need to rebound better or take care of the basketball, but the number of missed calls tonight may have been impossible to overcome. The Pelicans got to the line 36 times compared to the Bulls’ 18. And, I’m sorry, there is just no way the disparity should have been that large (the Bulls shoot the 7th-most FTAs in the league while the Pelicans rank 18th).
If you need an idea of just how bad things were, let’s just say this set the tone for the night:
Look, I know it isn’t sexy to complain about fouls. And are there things the Bulls could have done better? Of course. I had real concerns about the Pelicans’ size dominating both the rebounding and points in the paint battle, and they did just that. But I think I deserve at least a couple of games a year where I can blame the officials, and I’m choosing to do that tonight.
Check out the box score here.