Things Pretty Much Couldn't Be Worse for the Bulls Right Now (and Other Bulls Bullets)

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Things Pretty Much Couldn’t Be Worse for the Bulls Right Now (and Other Bulls Bullets)

Chicago Bulls

As the headline states: Things arguably couldn’t be worse in Chicago.

The team has now lost six of their last seven games, including five in a row. Two of those losses came in blowout fashion to the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans, while the most recent came in another failed clutch performance against the rebuilding Orlando Magic.

What’s worse than the 6-10 record or bottom-10 net rating, however, is the energy inside that locker room.

Now, to be absolutely clear, I wasn’t in that locker room last night. But the stench of despair mixed with frustration and topped with anger was strong enough to drift for miles. This team is completely broken right now, and the worst thing is … I’m not sure anyone knows how to fix it.

  • I’m not somebody who usually presses the panic button after 16 games. While I’m not afraid to call a performance as I see it, I believe (hope?) that most of you who stop by BN Bulls somewhat routinely have noticed my patience. I’m usually the “give it some time” guy and the “it’s a process guy.” And while I’m not denying that there is still more than enough season left for this team to turn things around, my hope that they can do just that is dwindling fast.
  • The whole point of continuity is that something like this shouldn’t happen. Chicago shouldn’t be searching for chemistry or repeatedly playing out of rhythm. They were supposed to have the upper hand because of the experience they gained last season. We’re seeing none of that to start the year, and that’s why I refuse to have the same tolerance I had at times last season.
  • What’s most discouraging is that the three players this team is supposed to be built around can’t seem to get on the same page. Head coach Billy Donovan had to – rightfully – call his “big 3” out prior to last night’s tip-off. He stressed that it was up to them to set the tone early on both ends, which is something we can all agree three All-Stars should be able to do against a youthful Magic team. Instead, the Bulls dropped the 1st quarter 37-24 and decided not to show up until they faced another 19-point deficit.
  • Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams looked like the only ones who cared when the ball was first thrown into the air. DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic eventually began to make plays that helped claw the Bulls back into the game late (DeRozan did most of the work, per usual, with 41 points). But this acted as yet another reminder that erasing double-digit deficits isn’t a method for sustained success, particularly when your max player is a complete and utter no-show.
  • Speaking of which, I don’t want to ruin a day that is about to be spent with family by ranting about Zach LaVine. I did most of my talking on his end-of-game benching in the post shared below this bullet. All I’ll add for now is that – regardless of how he feels or whether the decision to bench him was the right one – LaVine needs to play *a lot* better. The last thing the Bulls need is for him to hold some grudge against his head coach. If he wants to give Donovan the middle finger, fine, but he needs to do that on the court. As LaVine often says: “Everything comes with winning.”
  • What makes all of this sting, even more, is that both Wendell Carter Jr. and Lauri Markkanen continue to perform like the players the Bulls always wanted them to be. Carter Jr. led the Magic with 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists last night in a +13 performance. Meanwhile, Lauri Markkanen took down the Phoenix Suns with a 38-point performance and an absurd game-clinching shot. The Bulls will see Markkanen in Utah on the 28th.
  • The Bulls have now moved to a league-worst 0-7 in clutch games this season. They hold the 2nd-worst net rating after finishing with the 3rd-best net rating last season. I truly don’t understand how the drop-off can be this significant for practically an identical roster. Even without Lonzo Ball on the floor, the Bulls were able to put together some great performances down the stretch. Where the heck has that ability gone?
  • For the sake of my sanity, I have to include at least one or two positive bullets. Since I can’t point toward the upcoming schedule as an opportunity to bounce back (the Celtics, Bucks, Thunder, Jazz, Suns, Warriors, and Kings rest ahead), I’ll point toward what DeMar DeRozan had to say. The All-Star didn’t hesitate to say that things are tough right now, but he also expressed confidence that things will turn around and the offense will come.
  • Also, while Donovan is under a lot of fire from the fan base, he hasn’t shied away from saying the things this team needs to hear:

“I’m just a big believer in the game of basketball, you get what you earn, and your record says exactly who you are. And I think that’s where we’re at. We are a 6-10 team. Tonight was a tough loss, but it’s hard to play 24 minutes and expect to win. 

I think for our basketball team – and I enjoy these guys a great deal, I have great affection for this team – but we’re going to have to, as a group, pull ourselves out of it. We are going to have to invest more and put more into it … We can’t be externally motivated by the scoreboard. We have to be internally motivated to play with standard.”

  • You can catch Donovan’s full postgame presser below:
  • Also, yes, Nikola Vucevic should have hit one of his dang free throws to help ice that game. But the Bulls simply shouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place and LaVine shouldn’t have shot 1-14 from the field. That’s the much bigger deal.
  • Oh, what could have been …
  • Hey, that’s exciting!
  • Always a good one.


Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.