Copying and Pasting Losses, LaVine Drops 40 Again, the Pacers’ Bench, and Other Bulls Bullets

Even as the Bulls started to trend in the wrong direction at this time last year, I was excited about every game. The organization was in a tight fight to secure a top-6 seed and head to their first playoff series since the 2016-17 campaign.

Jump to today, and I caught myself smiling when I saw only two games on this week’s calendar. What a difference a year can make, huh?

  • I got to be honest, I’m having a tough time. It’s hard to find new things to say daily about this team when they continue to copy and paste their defeats. I’ve covered some pretty rancid Bulls teams since joining Bleacher Nation in 2019. To be sure, there is no doubt that this is a far more talented bunch, but it was probably easier to write about the Jim Boylen era than this underachieving roster. They at least lost in different ways and had some player development storylines to follow.
  • As of now, it truly feels like the most interesting storylines are at least a month away (when the regular season ends). We’ll keep an eye on whether or not the Bulls can make a last-second push for the Play-In Tournament, but raving about a battle for the 10th seed is just so uninspiring. Anyway, sorry for all the doom and gloom.
  • I guess we’ll talk about the actual game at least a little. It was another performance where the Bulls’ two primary scorers did their job. DeMar DeRozan shot 9-16 from the field for 23 points, while Zach LaVine had his second 40-point effort in the last three games. The max player looked like exactly that as he shot 13-23 from the field with five 3s and an 11-13 showing from the free-throw line. The Pacers pretty much had no answer for his down-hill explosiveness (except fouling) and he did a nice job taking over the game when it mattered most. Yes, the Bulls lost, but it was still encouraging to see LaVine sink 14 points in the 4th quarter to give the bulls a chance to win.
  • Speaking of which, the final play with 2.7 seconds left was supposed to end up in LaVine’s hands, per head coach Billy Donovan. He was the primary option with DeMar DeRozan as the second choice trailing back toward the arc. To Indiana’s credit, they did a great job doubling LaVine off the Vooch screen as he swooped around. Jordan Nwora also kept his eye on DeRozan, which left Vucevic as the sensible option for a catch-and-shoot 3. All things considered, he got a decent look at it. The shot may have been rushed a bit, but I understand the fear that Indiana could try to foul to avoid the 3-point attempt.
  • The Bulls would have never been in this situation, however, if they held onto the ball and limited the Pacers’ offensive rebounds. These same old problems were the reason why they shot 60.8 percent from the field but lost (which, by the way, this is the second time in four games they shot well over 50 percent and lost). The Pacers were +10 in the points off TOV battle and +12 in second-chance points. It doesn’t matter how efficiently the Bulls shoot if they allow the Pacers to attempt 20 more field goals because of these screw-ups.
  • Chicago also had numerous defensive breakdowns. While Indiana deserves credit for knocking down some tough shots (especially Haliburton with that game-winner), the Bulls got beat in transition and by dive cuts on several key possessions. Especially when you’re playing against somebody who is as gifted of a passer as Halburton, you need to play defense on a string.
  • The real killer last night, though, was the Pacers’ bench. They outscored Chicago’s second unit 57-30, as Ben Mathurin, Chris Durate, and Oshae Brissett combined for 42 of those points. Meanwhile, big man Isaiah Jackson was responsible for 5 OREBs. Each one of these reserve players finished with a plus performance and earned an extended run because of their success against the Bulls’ bench.
  • The Bulls’ second unit also isn’t getting one of their best athletes back any time soon. Head coach Billy Donovan shared yesterday that Javonte Green has been experiencing discomfort when trying to move laterally. Without being able to progress to this next step in his rehab soon, it’s hard to imagine he’ll have enough time to make a full return before the end of the regular season.
  • Does anyone know a good witch? Or, like, someone who can go into the Advocate Center and spiritually cleanse the entire facility? The sheer number of injury problems – and, more specifically knee problems – for this organization is absurd. I’m willing to try anything at this point to kill this injury bug once and for all.
  • Marko Simonovic dropped 26 points and 21 rebounds for the Windy City Bulls last night. With that in mind, this is your monthly reminder that he is taking up a full-time roster spot and has appeared in just 12 games with an average of 3.3 minutes per contest.
  • “Everything.” – Ryan Poles (probably)
  • The Blackhawks have got a nice pipeline brewing!
  • Cool.
  • written by

    Elias Schuster is the Lead Chicago Bulls writer at Bleacher Nation. He started with BN full-time in 2019 immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign with a degree in Journalism (yes, he started with the Jim Boylen Era). Since joining, Elias has been the driving force behind Bulls and NBA content for both the site and social accounts. You can follow him on Twitter/X @Schuster_Elias.

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