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Add another one to the terrible loss column

Will Gottlieb Avatar
January 12, 2023

So the Bulls can beat good teams.

They can’t beat the bad ones.

The Bulls add to their laundry list of worst losses of the season with a 100-97 loss to the Bradley Beal-less, the Kristap Porzingis-less, the Daniel Gafford-less Washington Wizards. Yuck.

No, the Bulls did not have DeMar DeRozan (quad strain), but that was still one of their more pathetic effort’s of the season.

Second half offense disappears

After an encouraging first half, building up a 13-point lead entering the break, the Bulls laid a complete egg in the second half, losing the third quarter 41-21 and scoring only 17 points in the fourth.

Despite Zach LaVine’s 38 points (15-of-28 shooting, 4-of-11 on threes, 4-of-7 from the line), the Bulls simply couldn’t generate enough offense to get them back in the game, especially when the Wizards started aggressively doubling him.

From 6:43 when Alex Caruso tipped in an offensive rebound (on his own missed layup) to LaVine’s miracle three on the out of bounds play at 0:30, the Bulls scored a total of four points.

When the Bulls finally tied the game on this incredible three-pointer, it felt as though there was just enough juice left to get them out of D.C. alive.

But after Kyle Kuzma one-upped LaVine with a three of his own, needed another piece of magic.

They couldn’t get it.

Down three points with just 5.7 seconds to go, the Bulls needed a three. LaVine was obviously the one to take it, but for some reason, he dribbled into a long, contested two, which missed and that ended the game.

LaVine told reporters after the game that he thought a Wizards defender fouled him and that the ref admitted as much. The year of the Last Two Minute report continues.

Offensive rebounding as bad as it seems?

But is it as bad as it seems?

It may not feel like it, but the Bull are fifth in the NBA in opponent offensive rebounding percentage on the season, and even better, tied for best in the league since the turn of the year.

Ayo Dosunmu on the ball

With DeRozan out of the lineup, LaVine and Nikola Vucevic did their jobs and provided the primary scoring boost the Bulls needed.

But the Bulls needed a third player to soak up some usage.

Ayo Dosunmu’s stat line didn’t pop, but he did some nice things on the ball that helped create some good looks for the Bulls in their half court offense.

Running several sets as a ball-handler in empty, side pick-and-roll with Vucevic, Dosunmu got to his Illini go-to pull-up jumper and flashed some nice facilitating.

The bonus here is the way Billy Donovan uses LaVine. Given that he is shooting 56 percent on catch-and-shoot threes over the last 15 games, it’s pretty smart to have him spotting up.

If he is stationed in the opposite side corner, Vucevic can easily find him when his defender steps over to help on the short roll.

If he is stationed on the strong side, his defender can’t help off. That gives Dosunmu and Vucevic an entire quarter of the court to do their thing.

Entry pass woes

Without DeRozan, offensive options are limited. The Bulls needed to do everything they could to capitalize on the advantages they had. Vucevic was one of those advantages and the Bulls simply didn’t do enough to play through him.

Without Porzingis and Daniel Gafford, the Wizards front court was extremely thin. Taj Gibson was the lone big man and the Bulls still couldn’t get Vucevic the ball on the block.

Vucevic ended up with 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Fine. Just not enough. And that’s not on him nearly as much as it is on his teammates for struggling to throw an entry pass.

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