As losses pile up, so do questions on this Bulls group discovering its method
These losses weigh closely on the Bulls. Coach Billy Donovan swears they do.
“These guys actually care,” he stated Monday earlier than the Bulls fells 101-90 to the Grizzlies in Memphis — their third straight defeat because the losses of current weeks proceed to pile up. “I believe there’s positively disappointment once we don’t play to the extent we need to play at. However the different a part of that, too, is you’ve acquired 48 minutes to not really feel that method. So I do assume they’ve put rather a lot into it, I do assume they work laborious, I do assume they care. I’ve by no means, ever as soon as since I’ve been right here seen a bunch come into the locker room and have a carefree ‘Who cares?’ [attitude]. There’s a real heartache when these guys lose.”
And after this loss, it’s apparent the place they nonetheless must put extra work in. Fouling and turnovers stay points. And except the Bulls begin defending at a persistently greater degree with 19 regular-season video games left, they may have the ability to retain their maintain on a play-in sport however probably are headed for a one-and-done postseason.
Defensive miscues in Sunday’s loss to the Timberwolves have been embarrassing; Donovan known as gamers out on it, and so they knew. On Monday, the protection was higher general, however the miscues continued, particularly on assist protection and in crunch time.
“Working nonetheless,” stated guard Zach LaVine, whose 21 factors led the group. “We’ve acquired to begin figuring it out. We simply didn’t shut. It’s irritating. We’re proficient sufficient to win these video games, however we’re simply not getting the outcomes. It’s simply upsetting.’’
On a number of events towards the Grizzlies (27-25), the Bulls’ protection — new faces and all — gave the impression to be in sync. Patrick Williams made an ideal play within the first quarter, leaving his man within the nook and coming bottom on a lob try for a tip away. LaVine fought by means of a display screen by Jonas Valanciunas (game-high 26 factors) and acquired a block. And Thad Younger did what he does greatest, drawing one other cost.
Now for the unhealthy — and it was unhealthy. With the Bulls (22-31) trailing by seven with 2:40 left, LaVine made two free throws to chop it to 5. A key cease was wanted however didn’t come as Ja Morant hit the protection with a hesitation dribble and layup. After a miss by LaVine, Kyle Anderson hit a clutch three-pointer, resulting in a turnover by LaVine off a double dribble.
The wheels have been formally off. Valanciunas scored on a nasty put-back dunk with 1:39 left, and the Bulls have been down by 12.
On an evening when the Bulls’ offense was struggling (5-for-31 from three-point vary), they harm themselves on protection by chasing guards over screens quite than combating by means of them and lacking assist assignments.
“We have been extra bodily — in all probability essentially the most bodily we’ve been,’’ stated middle Daniel Theis, who scored 18 factors off the bench. “Proper now, one class hurts us. We’ve acquired to place all of it collectively in a single sport.
“We positively need to win now. Our objective is to make the playoffs. We’ve acquired to place a whole sport collectively.”