A Step Slow, Why the Clippers Made it Rain, Bulls Fest Returns, and Other Bulls Bullets
I feel like I should hold any thoughts on last night’s game until Thursday morning.
The Chicago Bulls’ 124-112 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers sure wasn’t pretty, but I’m having a hard time deciding how much weight I think it carries. The fact of the matter is the Bulls weren’t going to go undefeated over the remainder of the regular season. Not to mention, they still went 2-1 on this final West road trip.
I guess I just have to see how they follow this up on Wednesday night at the United Center. As long as they come out and play with the same sense of urgency we’ve seen in a majority of games since the All-Star break, I won’t be too worried.
- DeMar DeRozan put it best after the game: “We didn’t give ourselves a chance. We were a step slow on everything. We didn’t make guys put the ball on the floor. They were getting shots off, they got a rhythm and were knocking them in,” the All-Star told Bulls dot com. That game was over by the second quarter. I’m not sure if it was tired legs or just a hot night for the Clippers, but my instincts tell me it was a little bit of both.
- While I know this was a somewhat easier back-to-back thanks to the lack of travel, it was still two games in two days. Plus, the Bulls have played an incredibly grueling schedule dating back to last week. They’ve played seven games in 11 days and two of those went into double-OT. I know some. might not believe this sentiment, but I think they were due for one of these games, especially against a team as talented as the Clippers.
- As for the Clippers’ shooting, you just have to tip your hat. They dished a season-high 41 assists on the night and knocked down their third-most 3s of the season (20). Overall, Kawhi Leonard and Co. shot 59.3 percent from the field. Sometimes the basketball gods bless you for a game, and I think LA received that honor last night.
- Now, having said that, it’s not like the Bulls’ defense made the Clippers work for every bucket. As DeRozan said, the team was clearly a step slow all night. They struggled to hit their rotations in the way we’ve grown accustomed to in recent weeks. Likewise, they allowed the Clippers to repeatedly beat them in transition for 26 fastbreak points. So Chicago undoubtedly deserves a slap on the wrist for their defensive showing – any team that allows their opponent to shoot nearly 60 percent from the field does. But I also want to make sure we don’t forget that this is the kind of blowout loss Chicago risks on almost a nightly basis.
- Indeed, the Bulls’ defensive identity since the All-Star break has been founded on not allowing teams to dominate them in the paint. They want to disrupt the action at the point of attack and force players to kick the ball back out. Then, the goal is to rotate and close out strong on any open shooters. We’ve seen this work to the tune of holding teams to the fewest points in the paint per game since the All-Star break, which is one of the primary reasons why they’ve held the 7th-best defensive rating over that span. But the Clippers showed why this gameplan can be a problem, particularly when rotations are a step slow.
“I just think we could have been better, have been better, most of the year defensively. I think since the All-Star break we’re maybe second or third defensively,” Billy Donovan said after the game. “We’ve done a good job. But tonight we didn’t do a good enough job all around containing the ball. And when we did contain the ball, our ability to scramble or rotate was challenging.”
- Patrick Williams was one of the few bright spots last night. He finished 7-8 from the field for 16 points in his return to the starting lineup. It would have been nice to see him make a greater impact on the glass, but I enjoyed watching him remind us of his potential mid-range game. The dude was sinking shots from the elbow. He also had this great cut:
- This is how you know when it’s just the other team’s night:
- The Chicago Bulls got some love on the latest episode of JJ Redick’s The Old Man & The Three podcast. While he didn’t believe much in any Play-In Tournament team’s ability to make a run in the Eastern Conference (I don’t either), he did shoutout Patrick Beverley for helping light a spark in Chicago’s locker room:
The reality is Patrick Beverley makes a huge impact. He makes a huge impact defensively, he makes a huge impact tin the spirit of the team, he makes an impact in the make-up, the cohesiveness of a basketball team. Give the guy a lot of credit. They’re a different team.”
- Bulls Fest is back this summer! I don’t know if any of you guys had a chance to make it out last year, but I’d highly recommend stopping by this time around. While I’m not sure it’s an all-day event (unless you’re in the actual basketball tournament), I enjoyed walking around, grabbing a drink, and taking in the atmosphere. I think it’s a great way to build an even closer connection with the fanbase, and I especially loved seeing several players get involved by running some kids clinics.
- This is nuts …
- Just a reminder: We have our first BN event coming up in Wrigleyville next week. There will be a Cubs and Bears panel and a couple of special guests. Food, drinks, and live music will also be had! I’ll be there to take shots of Malort and talk myself into the Bulls’ securing another first-round series. If you end up coming, please feel free to come and say hi! You can get tickets here.
- The Bears still have some upgrades to make …