A Tough Pill to Swallow, Problems in the Clutch, Bears Show Some Love, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Fox’s Big Shot, Problems in the Clutch, Bears Show Some Love, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls


Also, what a fantastic graphic by the Bulls’ digital team …

  • I’m glad March Madness is here to ease my pain. While I wrote off letting myself get worked up over this Chicago Bulls team well over a month ago … I let myself slip last night. The Bulls were in a legitimate position to pick up their third-straight victory and take down a very good Sacramento Kings squad. Not only would it have been a reassuring win as they push for the Play-In Tournament, but it would have put them back in 10th over the Washington Wizards. Instead, they’re now a half-game behind with easily their toughest four-game stretch left on the calendar: Minnesota, Miami, and Philly (x2).
  • In typical Bulls fashion, they played pretty great basketball for half the game. While they may have only shot 42.6 percent in the first half, they assisted on 15 of their 20-made field goals and flew around on the defensive end to force 10 Sacramento turnovers. When we consider that LaVine was having a tough night finding his shot (he’s earned a couple of off-quarters after his recent stellar play), it was a really impressive team-wide effort to gain a 10-point advantage heading into the half.
  • Then, the Bulls watched the No. 1 offense in the NBA outscore them 37-22 in the 3rd quarter and shoot 52.6 percent the rest of the way. How did the Bulls shoot in the second half? 36.0 percent. Rarely, if ever, are you going to pull off the win when that’s the case, but what makes it hurt even more is that the Bulls had a chance! We saw the return of DeMar DeClosin’ with 16 points in the 4th quarter, including this bonkers game-tying 4-point play:

  • Those are the type of shots that go down when it’s your night, and I was more than ready for the Bulls to head into OT on their home floor and get the win. But De’Aaron Fox insisted on reminding DeRozan who was the clutch leader in points this season. He went on to knock down this semi-less-bonkers shot:

  • Now, could Ayo Dosunmu have been pressed up a little tighter on Fox? Sure. Patrick Williams also could have come to help a little bit earlier. But that’s just a stone-cold dagger 3 from De’Aaron Fox. Overall, the Bulls played fine during the last 5 minutes. DeRozan hit two huge 3s and Zach LaVine stayed aggressive and got to the free-throw line. It would have been nice for them to get an extra stop or two, but let’s remember this is also the best offensive and clutch team in the NBA.

“I like the things we did,” Donovan said of the final 5 minutes. “I thought there were some possessions inside of four minutes we could have been a little bit better on. For the most part, I thought we were pretty good coming down the stretch. I liked the way the guys managed the clock”

  • I don’t know. On one hand, I’ve been pretty encouraged by the team’s recent play. If last night was, in fact, just an off-night for LaVine, we have a real reason to believe they can keep things competitive over this brutal upcoming stretch. This feels especially true when we consider Patrick Beverley’s recently well-rounded play in the starting lineup (he has 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal) and Patrick Williams’ production off the bench.
  • On the other hand, this Bulls team always feels on the cusp of a low-effort losing streak. We’ve also seen them fail time and again to close out games, so even if they keep playing these good teams close, it’s hard to trust that they’ll edge them out. Indeed, the Bulls have the third-worst winning percentage in the clutch this year behind only the Spurs and Rockets. I still can’t believe that fact after they finished top-3 in clutch net rating last season.
  • The best assist of Zach LaVine’s career!

  • Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields showed up to last night’s game with his WRs, including new face DJ Moore.

  • I can tell!

  • Some league notes …

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.