You thought the Bulls blowing a 21-point lead to the Pacers on January 14 was bad?
Let me raise you a 24-point lead blown to the Pacers on Wednesday night.
The Bulls lost to the Indiana Pacers 113-117 and are now six games below .500. This loss is even more deflating and flummoxing than the last. The Bulls haven’t won a game since the NBA Trade Deadline, and with each passing loss, the roster remaining unchanged becomes more confusing.
The Bulls got extremely hot in the first quarter, scoring 39 and finally getting some three pointers to fall. Zach LaVine led the way with nine points and the Bulls defense was locked in. Despite the Pacers making a push in the second quarter, the Bulls still led by 14 at the half.
And then the third quarter happened. The Bulls defense completely fell apart, allowing Buddy Hield to go off for 19 points on 5-of-6 from deep. The Bulls couldn’t organize and locate the threat in transition, giving up five transition threes in the second half. Their defense looked scattered, and some of their luck ran out.
The Bulls defense allows the fourth-highest three-point volume in the league, but opponents shoot below average on three-point attempts. At some point, their luck is going to run out, and the second half of the Pacers game Wednesday night may have been the beginning.
Despite a retro LaVine scoring night (35 points on 10-of-23 shooting, with 11 rebounds and 7 assists) and a season-high 25 points from Coby White, the Bulls found themselves playing catch-up in the final possessions of a game they previously led by 24. It was the second-highest blown lead in the NBA this season.
But at least we got to see some Dalen Terry minutes?
With DeMar DeRozan and Derrick Jones Jr. joining Javonte Green on the injury report, the Bulls had a cavity in their wing rotation and Terry has stepped into a rotation role, securing a career-high 15 minutes.
Though he didn’t score, he found ways to affect the game. His aggression going after misses on the offensive glass are a welcome addition for the league’s third-worst offensive rebounding team.
He also had a remarkable recovery block in the corner that saved an open three.
Terry’s awareness and instincts are a breath of fresh air. His effort and length keep him in any defensive play, even if the game moving slightly too fast catches him out of position at times.
As he gets more familiar with the NBA pace of play, he will start to recognize where he needs to be on the court at all times. Once he gets comfortable in his defensive role, he will be able to make plays like this helping off his man to protect the rim or rotate to steal a swing pass.
Down the line, he has some interesting upside as a utility defender, but a lot of that hinges on whether he can develop his jump shot enough to earn those minutes.
Clearly, Terry’s jumper is far away from game-ready. He launched the first two with confidence, but as soon as he missed, he hung his head and wasn’t prepared to shoot again the rest of the game.
Similar to Monday’s loss to the Magic, passing up open shots to drive into traffic leads to transition opportunities for the other team. They are momentum killers for you, and momentum starters for them.
Up next: Bulls host the Bucks tonight in their final game before (the much needed) All-Star Break.