Another Step Backward, LaVine's Poor Shooting, Crunch Time Woes, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Another Step Backward, LaVine’s Poor Shooting, Crunch Time Woes, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I could understand the Groundwork of Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant far faster than I could this Chicago Bulls team.

After beating the currently undisputed two best teams in the East in back-to-back games, the Bulls reverted back to their four-game-losing-streak self. The offense fell stagnant, the defense lacked a sense of urgency, and the execution level in crunch time left a lot to be desired. It all led to a 123-119 OT loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder – yet another team the Bulls simply have to beat if they want to be taken seriously.

  • Look, losing to the Thunder isn’t as alarming as losing to the Orlando Magic. OKC has kept things extremely close with a number of good teams this season, including the Denver Nuggets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Boston Celtics. The difference, however, is that those teams were still able to pull off the victory.
  • This is the kind of opponent where “continuity” and “experience” is supposed to reign supreme. OKC is one of the NBA’s youngest squads, featuring two 20-year-olds and one 21-year-old in the starting lineup. They’ve held a bottom-10 net rating and have allowed opponents to drop the most points per game. Again, I respect how hard they play and how great Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been to start the season, but a team with three All-Stars and playoff hopes is supposed to get the win. Just like all those other teams did.
  • If it’s not one thing, it’s another with this team. The Bulls actually happened to come out with one of their better starts of the year. They quickly got out to a 9-0 lead and pushed their advantage to as far as 12 in the 1st quarter. The foot came off the gas fast, though, and the Thunder quickly took control of the pace of play. The top-scoring team in the paint this season, OKC finished with an absurd 68-46 advantage down low. The Bulls – who clearly had the size advantage – settled for jumpers and fell victim to some shaky shot selection down the stretch.
  • I mean, seriously, I’m not quite sure why there wasn’t a greater emphasis to play from the inside out. The Thunder were engaged on the defensive end, but they had no one on the floor who could handle the size and physicality of Nikola Vucevic. He was 5-5 on shots within 14 feet of the basket, but he took a majority of his shorts from beyond that mark (where he missed eight of his nine attempts). I don’t know if that was a coaching decision or simply his teammates not looking for him in the right spots, but it was truly bizarre to watch in the moment.
  • It also surely didn’t help that Zach LaVine continued to settle for some low-percentage looks. He shot just 9-23 from the field and 4-11 from downtown. At the end of the day, it’s going to be extremely hard to become the consistent basketball team this group wants to be if LaVine continues to play this way. He’s shot just 39.9 percent from the field over the last eight games and is currently shooting a career-low 56 percent on his shot at the rim. I know … woof.
  • DeMar DeRozan has been great in recent weeks (and I wrote about it here), but he can’t always do it on his own. As great as he can be in crunch time, it became abundantly clear last night that the team trusts him and only him to get something done. It was predictable ISO possession after predictable ISO possession. And, again, while he is capable of single-handedly pulling off the victory, this team’s identity is supposed to revolve around sharing the basketball and keeping the offense moving. The worst time to steer away from that identity is when the game is on the line.
  • The Chicago Bulls are now 1-8 in clutch situations this season, which makes for easily the worst winning percentage in the NBA. This comes one year after the team held a 25-16 record in the clutch, which made for the 4th-highest winning percentage. That’s very ew.
  • Lauri is still looking amazing, by the way …
  • Don’t do something stupid. If he needs the rest … give it to him.
  • Did someone say losing streak!? I know what that’s like!

Author: Elias Schuster

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