Another Late-Game Blunder, That’s Not How Continuity Works, a Defeated DeMar, and Other Bulls Bullets
“We didn’t execute the play.”
Those are the words Billy Donovan uttered after he watched his team turn the ball over on a crucial late-game inbounds play. It was the same thing he watched happen exactly a week earlier in Indiana. As frustrated as the head coach sounded, I refuse to believe he was surprised. Donovan’s been around enough basketball in his life to know when a team has gotten the message. And the Bulls haven’t been listening all season long.
- The final turnover captured perfectly what has plagued this team all season. Not only did it re-emphasize the roster’s need for a true facilitator, but it reminded us of the troublesome on-court chemistry between DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. Despite the play seemingly being designed for LaVine to wrap around and get off a potential catch-and-shoot 3 in the corner, DeRozan headed toward the basketball. Caruso’s pass ended up between the two players – only for both players to fumble the ball and have it end up in the hands of the Clippers.
- Stacey King maps out the mess here:
- Look, mistakes happen. But it’s the number of times they’ve happened for this team that speaks to how desperately change is needed. I’ve stressed it since the first few weeks of the season: The whole point of “continuity” is to establish a group that can finish out games. Experience playing together is supposed to lead to a better understanding of how to put each other in a position to succeed. Are the Bulls only in Year 2 of this experiment? Yes, but the product is trending in the wrong direction. We’re supposed to see growth, not regression (and not 20 freakin’ turnovers). And the fact that we are seeing the latter should be one of the biggest indications to this front office that something needs to be done sooner than later.
- DeMar DeRozan is as level-headed as they come. Rarely after these ugly losses and blown leads has he been the one to express palpable frustration. He’s the half-glass-full guy. He’s the locker room leader and veteran who reminds everyone how up-and-down an NBA season can be. After last night’s game, however, even DeRozan couldn’t muster an optimistic perspective.
- The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry posted footage of DeRozan’s postgame comments from the locker room, and this is easily the most defeated I’ve seen him look all season:
- I’m sure a lot of the frustration stemmed from his own poor play. He missed his final four shots of the game and turned the ball over a career-high eight times. The five-time All-Star didn’t hesitate to take ownership of that performance, repeatedly calling his play “careless.”
“That was too uncharacteristic, turning the ball over like I did. Just careless,” DeRozan said. “I wouldn’t even give them all that credit of it was them, it was just us rushing some stuff. Being careless with the ball, being lose with the ball. That killed us too. I think had 7, 8, whatever it was, it was entirely too much.”
- Conversely, what DeRozan didn’t take ownership of was his missed bucket with roughly 41 seconds left on the clock. The Bulls had a chance to take the lead with the score sitting at 104-103. As he spun past Reggie Jackson for the layup attempt, he fell to his knees and sent the ball off the bottom of the rim. He insists that Jackson fouled him, so much so that he’s already bracing himself for the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report later today:
“I got fouled. What went wrong was they didn’t call it,” DeRozan said. “It’s frustrating being in that situation, you don’t want to settle for the jump shot. As soon as I spin his arm was reaching in. I couldn’t fully spin. I don’t know. It don’t make sense to me. You try to be aggressive, you try to get downhill, cleary a foul. It sucks. You wake up tomorrow and read the L2M and something else will be missed that possibly could have cost us the game. That’s the more frustrating part.”
- On one hand, every Bulls fan can understand where DeRozan’s frustration comes from. The Bulls have lost multiple games this season due to botched calls on game-winning attempts. And DeRozan has been the one on the wrong end of the majority of those calls. On the other hand, when you’re up 19 points, it should have never come down to that possession. The Bulls had a chance to put the game away numerous times and failed DESPITE holding LA to 39.8 percent shooting from the field. At the end of the day, they deserved to lose that game.
- At least Alex Caruso is still fun to watch:
- Do I think Zach LaVine can improve? Yes. Do I think he’ll ever be a true superstar? No. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the team should give up on him. LaVine can still be a valuable piece of a winning basketball team.
- Here’s a thought: Give Dalen Terry NBA minutes instead of G-League minutes.
- *spits out coffee*
- NOOOOOOO. Courtney Vandersloot was an utter joy to watch each night and the epitome of a winning point guard. I wish her nothing but the best, but losing her and Candace Parker stings.
- Who’s that?
- Would you do it?