It couldn’t have been a more obvious trap game….
The Rockets were the West’s worst team and had yet to crack double-digit wins. They held the NBA’s 4th-worst net rating, and they were also in the thick of a five-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls were finally finding their groove. Not only had they won three games in a row, but all came on the road against teams that sat above them in the East standings. The Bulls’ “Big 3” of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic also happened to be on a franchise-best streak of each scoring 20+ points in four-straight games.
So there was no way the Bulls were going to lose, right? Especially with a chance to re-enter the Play-In Tournament picture on the line?
- You can never take another team for granted in the NBA. And I’m not sure what it will take for this Bulls team to realize that. Despite being a veteran-laden roster, they have repeatedly come out sluggish and overconfident against those who are considered far lower on the win-now totem pole. Whether it be OKC, San Antonio, or Orlando, they haven’t shied away from having to declare an unacceptable performance… but when is that actually going to change?
- The trap game potential was so obvious that there should have been clear motivation to come and prove that this wouldn’t be the case. Instead, the Bulls allowed the Rockets to get off to a 22-5 start and shoot 55.6 percent from the field over four quarters. This included six players scoring in double figures and Kevin Porter Jr. dropping a season-high 36 points.
“We got to play with more of a sense of urgency out of the gate,” DeRozan told The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. “That’s all it is … We can’t feel out games. We got to go out the gate and treat it like it’s the 4th quarter. That’s just how we have to play. We have to be more conscious of that.”
- I’m truly dumbfounded by the number of quotes I’ve read this season with similar messaging. Ever since this underwhelming season started, the locker room has pretty much said all the right things. They haven’t downplayed the issues but embraced them, even agreeing that a lot of what we’ve seen thus far is unacceptable basketball. But words are meaningless if they aren’t followed with *consistent* action. Sure, it’s nice that they were able to string together a three-game winning streak, but if that’s all it takes for them to let their guard down and forget how deep of a hole they have dug themselves into, then a real chance at a turnaround this season is non-existent.
- Here’s what I wrote in yesterday’s Weekly Preview: ” The Bulls have to be ready for speed, athleticism, and physicality. If they’re not ready to do things like crash the glass and get back in transition, this could turn into a trap game fast.” Shocker: They were not ready. Houston outscored Chicago 60-44 in the paint and outrebounded them 45-35. As lucky as some of their shotmaking was, the Bulls served up open 3s and clear lanes with a side of warm butter.
- I’m not sure if this is even tracked, but I feel like the Bulls have to give up more long runs than most teams in the NBA. They just fall into some absurd lapses, which only further underscores their problems with consistency.
- When continuity gets you this result, you know it’s time for some drastic changes:
- Ditto on this one:
- At least this was pretty cool, I guess.
- A little NBA history:
- The Bears still have a shot at the No. 1 overall pick.
- Most improved, eh? Okay.