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Despite leading through three quarters, the Chicago Bulls struggled to score in the fourth quarter and overtime and ultimately fell to the Orlando Magic 114-108.
Here are my takeaways from the game:
— The Bulls went back to the Andre Drummond, Nikola Vucevic twin towers lineup in the first quarter. It appears this lineup is here to stay.
The Bulls were aggressively looking to post up Drummond, clearing out space for him on the block using these stagger screens with Vucevic popping and Drummond flashing to the block.
The floor spacing in this lineup is really funky, especially with DeMar DeRozan playing off ball in the weakside corner. With Vucevic shooting a paltry 27.5 percent on threes this season, having one legitimate three-point threat on the court is not good enough.
The Bulls ran 15 post ups on Saturday night, which is more than enough. Especially when they’re scoring just 0.667 points per possession on such actions.
Drummond got into early foul trouble, picking up four personal fouls in the first half, forcing Billy Donovan away from the dual-big lineup. Probably for the best, at least tonight, as they were -4 points in 7:08 minutes, with many of those minutes coming in the first half.
Still, lineups with the two bigs are +20 points per 100 possessions in 153 possessions this season.
— Vucevic was active on both ends against his former team, scoring 26 points on 12-of-25 shooting, with 17 rebounds (nine offensive), four assists, three steals and a block. Though his three-point woes continue (1-of-7 from beyond the arc), his post game was working for him.
What’s not working for him is the Dirk Nowitzki one-legged fade away that he has taken to over the last several games. One of his three airballs on the night.
— Ayo Dosunmu airballed his first three-point attempt of the game, and then proceeded to hit five of his next seven en route to a new career-high in made threes.
Dosunmu continues to stretch his game, incrementally improving as a shooter, dribble driver, pocket passer and finisher. He’s one of the best success stories of the Arturas Karnisovas era from drafting him in the second round, to developing him, re-signing him on a bargain contract and turning him into a legitimate rotation piece for the Bulls future.
Dosunmu finished with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting in 39 minutes.
— Dalen Terry got minutes for the first time since January 30, and immediately hit a catch-and-shoot three. He followed it up with this insane poster dunk after following his own miss.
Terry’s shot mechanics have improved dramatically over the course of the year. He looks more confident and fluid every time he steps on the court. He’ll have the occasional airball, and that’s ok. Overall, he is trending the right way.
Terry had five points on 2-of-5 shooting with a rebound and two assists in 12 minutes.
— Last minute play calling continues to be a source of frustration on Bulls Twitter, with DeMar DeRozan again getting the nod on the final play of regulation, during which time he missed a pull up three at the buzzer with a chance to win the game.
White called for DeRozan to get the ball, set a screen to either force the Magic to switch or collapse on DeRozan. The Magic switched and DeRozan pulled up.
Donovan talked his way around the situation, explaining the reads and decisions that go into it.
Personally, though it would be nice to see what White is capable of in those scenarios, I don’t really think the trend of DeRozan getting these shots is problematic. White was involved in the action, and had the trap happened, he would have been open for three. This was the correct action to run at that time, the Magic are just super long and disruptive defensively.
White was also not his best, scoring 14 points on 5-of-21 shooting, including 2-of-11 threes. He did have seven assists, but it was a tough matchup for him. He played 45 minutes, which is altogether too many.
Meanwhile, DeRozan had a team-high 28 points on 11-of-24 shooting in 44 minutes.
Having now lost the season series to Orlando (0-3), they will lose the tie breaker and need to recover an additional game to jump them and get into the 7th vs. 8th matchup.
For now, the Bulls are locked into 9th, 3.5 games behind the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament standings.
The Bulls have tied the season series with Miami 2-2, but will likely also lose the tie-breaker with them, having a much worse division record.
The Bulls have one more matchup with the Indiana Pacers, with the season series tied 1-1. If the Pacers start to stumble, the Bulls will have a chance to leapfrog them.
However, the Atlanta Hawks, presumed sellers at the deadline, stood pat and are on the Bulls tail. They play Atlanta twice more, and are currently leading the season series 1-0.
They’ve already lost the season series with the Brooklyn Nets 0-2 with one game remaining.
Realistically, the Bulls are locked into the 9th vs. 10th matchup. The 9th seed gets to host the first Play-In game, a huge advantage in a single-elimination game. That’s the matchup to watch the rest of the way.
Up next: The Bulls are in Atlanta on Monday night for a matchup with the Hawks.
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