To the Chicago Bulls’ credit, they came out ready to play.
The Bulls sure looked like the team that gave Boston a challenge in their first three matchups of the season. While they may have waltzed out of the first quarter with a 3-point deficit, they were keeping up on both ends of the ball and used a strong start from Patrick Williams to toy with the lead in the 2nd quarter.
Unfortunately, though, the defensive issues that allowed the Jazz to score 68 points in the paint reared their ugly head again. The Bulls were blown by numerous times at the perimeter, with Jayson Tatum taking full advantage of some easy drives to the rim. The Bulls were outscored 28-20 in the paint over the first two quarters, helping explain their 9-point deficit at halftime.
The offense running cold also sure didn’t help. For a team with so much talent on that end of the ball, it’s still a bit mind-boggling to see how often they fall into extended scoring droughts. The Bulls finished the first half with just 4 points in the final 5 minutes of action. And while we all know Boston has a stiff defense, the lack of scoring was far more about the Bulls overpassing and point-blank missing some open looks.
Still, even with those issues, there was no lack of fight from this team. The Celtics may have made their fair share of runs and back-breaking shots, but the Bulls never hung their head. Even when DeMar DeRozan left the game with a quad injury in the 3rd quarter, Chicago was able to stay locked in.
Indeed, this is what made the night so darn impressive. On the road against the East’s best team without one of their top 2 players, the Bulls brought things all the way down to the wire. They forced Boston into their own 4 minutes-scoring drought and knocked down some huge 3s on the other side of the court.
Even better, Zach LaVine continued his recent dominant play. The Bulls’ max player scored 15 points in the final frame, 12 of which were consecutive to pull the team within just 4 points with 3:42 left to go.
Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to grab the win, but I’ll take a 2-2 regular season split with the reigning conference champs. Chicago gave these four games all they had, and I got to respect them for it.
Check out the full box score here.