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The Bulls start their West Coast mini-trip with one of the worst performances of the season, a 112-103 loss to the Sacramento Kings. The TL;DR is that the Bulls dug themselves into a 20-point hole at halftime and despite a second-half surge to get them within striking distance, they had no chance of stopping the Kings pick-and-roll duo.
These kinds of losses can’t happen.
Here are the two biggest reasons why they couldn’t pull off the win.
Blueprint to guarding DeMar?
DeMar DeRozan is the head of the snake. The offense runs through him. The Kings came out with an extremely aggressive game plan that prevented him from scoring his first field goal until 14 minutes into the game and the Bulls could not figure out how to take advantage.
The Bulls quickly realized they couldn’t keep running pick-and-rolls or running DeRozan off of screens to get him the ball. It allows the defender guarding the screener to easily double. So when the Bulls started to isolate DeRozan to allow him to go one-on-one, they sent two or three bodies to double.
The rest of the Bulls just couldn’t buy a bucket. They shot 36.6 percent from the field and 28.8 percent from three in the first half. The Bulls should better in the second half, finishing the game over 40 percent from the field and 30 percent on threes, but it wasn’t enough when they absolutely could not get a stop.
No answer for the Fox/Sabonis pick-and-roll
At the end of the day, the Kings offense was just unstoppable. Yes, you read that right. The Kings went to their go-to pick-and-roll with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and the Bulls could not slow them down.
“That five minute period where they ran off twenty points, that two-man game with Sabonis and Fox and we did not do a good enough job at the point of the screen,” Donovan said.
“All it was just a two-man game, high pick-and-roll,” he continued. “It wasn’t like they were doing a lot of movement. They were just throwing it to them and letting them play.”
After continuing to torch the Bulls drop coverage, the Bulls had to try something else. They began to “pre-switching” the Spain pick-and-roll. (Stephen Noh has a great explainer video on stack, or Spain, pick-and-roll, and how to defend it).
Here Donte DiVincenzo screens for Sabonis before Sabonis sets the ball screen for Fox. In order to get Vucevic out of these two-on-one situations, Coby White follows Sabonis up to the ball so he can switch the ball-screen on Fox.
Though it relieved Vucevic from containing Fox, the Kings still had their way.
Considering the stakes, this loss can’t happen. The Bulls have an incredibly difficult stretch to close out the year and every win counts. They can’t afford to lose any ground with the Celtics biting at their heels and the 2nd and 3rd seed still in sight.
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