A Concerning 4th Quarter, Jaden Ivey’s Blunder, Pat Bev Does it All, and Other Bulls Bullets
Around 9:30 p.m. CT last night I found myself sitting in a pair of boxers and eating something called a dessert lasagna.
This team takes quite a physical and emotional toll on me.
- I recognize that the Bulls won last night. I also recognize that they are 3-1 since the All-Star break. But I’d be lying to your face if I said I feel really any better about where this team is at right now. Putting aside my overarching frustration around their choice to push for the Play-In Tournament in the first place, it’s still remarkably irritating to watch this team play a full 48 minutes. They had a chance to take care of business last night and at least give us a little more reason to believe this group has learned from past mistakes. Instead, they let the Pistons erase a 21-point lead faster than a 4th grader could erase his friend’s scribbling of “boobs” on a homework assignment he’s about to turn in.
- But, hey, they got the win! I get that, and there is no question that’s a better outcome than watching them completely crumble. However, it’s also very possible that luck is the only reason they got that win. The Pistons had a chance to send the game to OT or even go for the win with 9.7 seconds left. The reason they failed wasn’t because of an encouraging defensive stand by Chicago but rather an embarrassing blunder by Jaden Ivey. The rookie pulled a Chris Webber and called for the non-existent timeout.
- In case you missed it, here’s the moment:
- Other than a clutch drive to the hoop to set up the free throws by Zach LaVine, the Bulls’ 4th quarter was a complete and utter disaster. They made just TWO field goals in the final 12 minutes and turned the ball over five times. The Pistons hold the third-worst defense in the NBA, folks. If this is how the Bulls perform down the stretch against them, how am I supposed to be convinced that they can handle the pressure of postseason crunch time?
- Also, the fact that Zach LaVine registered just one field goal attempt in the final frame is ludicrous. While he did at least go a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line, there is no excuse for not finding him more during the thick of a 40-point night. He had the hottest hand on the court from the opening tip-off. So, as much as I respect DeRozan’s clutch shot-making skills, he simply can’t go 2-7 with the game on the line while an NBA Jam version of LaVine is standing in the corner.
- Now, to DeRozan’s credit, he did a nice job organically letting the offense run at the beginning of the game. He dished 6 assists and grabbed 5 rebounds over the first two quarters while shooting the ball just six times. The Bulls took a 69-54 lead into the locker room and appeared to be on their way to an easy win. Over the next two frames, though, DeRozan went 4-10 from the field and recorded just one more assist and two more rebounds. I’m not sure why the approach changed so much for him and this team. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!?
- Patrick Beverley has been a joy to watch. The new addition might not be able to fully turn things around, but he has made a small difference with his relentless devotion to doing the little things. While he finished last night with just 5 points, he did finish with 10 assists, 10 rebounds (four of which were on the offensive glass), and 4 steals.
- Some of those assists, in particular, did a great job demonstrating how well he sees the game. He snatched an offensive rebound before swiftly feeding LaVine – who was waiting in the dunker spot – for the reverse layup. He converted an impressive baseline bounce pass to Caruso for the 3-pointer. He readjusted mid-air to find Coby White for a wide-open 3 with a two-handed dime. And he recorded several assists by simply handing it off to whichever teammates had momentum going downhill. To be clear, he still isn’t a true point guard who should be considered the answer to the Bulls’ facilitating problems, but there is no question his IQ can make a winning impact.
- I’m not going to read too much into this or anything, but this encounter between Beverley and Vucevic was all kinds of awkward (also, that’s a good caption by Will):
- On one hand, I’m very happy to see Vucevic called out for an obvious missed defensive rotation. On the other hand, the last thing the Bulls need is any locker room tension. I’m sure this was nothing, but let’s hope it doesn’t turn into something.
- Zach LaVine is a Bulls legend.
- More evidence that Zach LaVine is really good at the whole scoring thing:
- If the Bulls want a chance at making the postseason, putting a stop to this recent turnover trend is key.
- Should the Bulls think about Anderson?
- Do the Blackhawks have anything else up their sleeve?
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