Close But No Cigar: Bulls Battle Kings to the Wire But Come Up Short, 128-124
The Bulls stuck with the Kings all game but were unable to pull out the victory down the final stretch.
The Chicago Bulls dropped the second contest of their four-game West Coast swing on Wednesday night, falling to the Sacramento Kings by a score of 128-124. This game was tightly contested down the stretch as both teams consistently matched runs and buckets throughout. Despite a career-high 36 points from Coby White, the Bulls weren’t able to come away with the victory.
The Bulls entered this game fresh off a 111-108 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers the night before to kick off their road trip out west. The Kings have Bulls’ number as of late, winning five out of the last six head-to-head meetings prior to Wednesday’s affair.
The Bulls were shorthanded once again as Lauri Markkanen, Ryan Arcidiacono, Chandler Hutchison, and Tomas Satoransky were all sidelined due to COVID-19-related reasons.
Close Game in the First Half
The Bulls and the Kings looked evenly matched in the first half, which was reflected by a 62-59 Kings lead heading into halftime. Coby White led the Bulls in first-half scoring with 17 points on 7/11 shooting from the field. Additionally, Zach LaVine put up 16 points over the first two quarters to aid the Bulls’ scoring. Despite those strong offensive performances, the Bulls struggled on the defensive end as they allowed the Kings to score easy points in the paint. Sacramento finished the game with 62 points in the paint.
The Bulls also struggled to take care of the ball in the first half to the tune of ten turnovers, which resulted in a plethora of easy points for the Kings. Chicago entered the game ranked 29th in the league in turnovers and did nothing to help their cause on that front in the first half.
Bulls Struggle to Hold on in Second Half
The majority of the third quarter was defined by runs as both teams moved the ball efficiently and shot it well. The Bulls held a 34-31 third-quarter point advantage to keep the overall point total locked at 93 heading into the final frame, many thanks to Zach LaVine. Despite the game being close, the Bulls struggled to close out the game effectively and allowed the Kings to shoot 54.2% from the field. Fatigue may have factored into the performance as the Bulls were playing in the second of back-to-back contests.
The Kings were mostly without the services of De’Aaron Fox, who suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter of the game. Due to that absence, Tyrese Haliburton saw an opportunity to start in the second half and he took full advantage of it. Haliburton, the Kings’ 12th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, logged 15 points in the fourth quarter and the Bulls simply had no answers for him. It seemed as if the rookie couldn’t miss while he took advantage of some poor decision-making from the Bulls. Despite a valiant effort from Coby White to keep things interesting, sloppy fourth-quarter turnovers and shot selection by the Bulls ultimately allowed Sacramento to walk away with a win.
Career Night for Coby
Coby White put together a phenomenal performance against the Kings. The second-year guard scored a career-high 36 points on 15/23 shooting from the field. Even more impressively, he finished the game with seven assists and zero turnovers. White reached a significant milestone in the first half by scoring his 1,000th career point.
White’s aggressiveness led to production as he utilized his quickness to attacked the rim and did a great job finishing around the rim. Beyond that, he looked to push the pace to find the open man, rarely taking any bad shots.
Questions have swirled surrounding head coach Billy Donovan’s decision to make White the starting point guard, but it seems to be working. White seems more confident running the offense and understanding his role with the starters. This development is crucial as the season progresses because the Bulls will rely heavily on the duo of White and LaVine to keep games close all season, just as they did on Wednesday night with a combined 68 points. Despite the loss, there is still plenty to be excited about as the two continue to grow this season.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls continue their West Coast trip when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers (6-2) on Friday night. Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and co. are currently riding a four-game winning streak. The Bulls will look to get back to .500 with a victory on Friday. It remains to be seen if the Lakers will consider resting Lebron and Davis when Chicago comes to town. The matchup will be another late-night affair, as tip-off is scheduled for 9 PM CT. Tune in to the Bulls On Tap podcast for further Chicago basketball analysis and commentary.