The Chicago Bulls kept up a competitive game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday afternoon. However, the young team ultimately fell 130-127. The fact that the Bulls kept it close isn’t something to take lightly, either. The Clippers held nothing back. Kawhi Leonard played 38 minutes and Paul George played 40 minutes.
The two Clippers’ stars also happened to eat the Bulls up on the perimeter, a running theme for Chicago so far this season. Leonard led the Clippers with 35 points on 14 of 22 shooting. He also hit seven of his nine three-point attempts. George shot 5/8 from behind the arc as the Bulls allowed the Clippers to shoot 53% from three.
Not to be outdone, the Bulls displayed some hot shooting of their own. LaVine, who led all scorers with 45 points, went 10/16 from three. Chicago actually outshot the Clippers 55% from deep. Not to mention, Coby White nearly had a triple-double with nine points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists.
In the end, the Bulls just couldn’t escape the turnover bug. They had 21 to LA’s ten and the Clippers took full advantage, scoring 29 points off of turnovers. Turnovers have been an area of concern all season long, and this game did nothing to quell worries about LaVine, White, and all the Bulls players’ ball security.
The Bulls were coming off a nail-biter against the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. They lost as Zach LaVine’s last-second jumper fell flat. Outside of a couple of blowouts, the Bulls have played competitive basketball on a consistent basis this season. Without the immense turnover numbers, this team is in a different position. However, you can’t play the what-if game. Still, the Bulls are proving to be a competitive team, and they were looking to bring that into this game.
Kawhi vs. Baby Kawhi
Patrick Williams drew comparisons to Kawhi Leonard ahead of the 2002 NBA Draft, and those rumblings have continued throughout the season. After getting a chance to go head-to-head with LeBron James on Frida — and receiving some praise from James in the process — he got a chance to take on Kawhi.
As previously alluded to, Kawhi still had a pretty easy game. Even so, Patrick Williams had some good showings against him. Furthermore, Williams arguably had his best offensive game of the season. The rookie put up 17 points on 67% shooting in 36 minutes. Williams has a long way to go, but taking on James and Kawhi exemplifies the trust that Billy Donovan has in the rookie.
LaVine Lights It Up And Turns It Over
Although the Bulls didn’t get the win, Zach LaVine had himself a game. He put up 45 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Not to mention, he shot over 50% from the game from the field and from three.
The downside? He had five turnovers. As LaVine continues to develop as a playmaker, he needs to shore up that aspect of his game. He’s averaging a career-high four turnovers per game. A 1.4 assist-turnover ratio is not going to cut it.
Role Players Roll With The Punches
The Bulls continue to be without Lauri Markkanen, Chandler Hutchison, Tomáš Satoranský, and Ryan Arcidiacono. They also didn’t have Otto Porter Jr., who was sidelined due to back spasms. With five of their top rotation players out, the Bulls needed their role players to step up.
Largely, they did. Garrett Temple played 36 minutes and scored 18 points on 7/8 shooting. Thaddeus Young scored 14 points on 6/7 shooting. Denzel Valentine chipped in ten points as well. The big minutes still went to White (43) and LaVine (42), but it was encouraging to see the role players step up.
What’s On Tap Next?
Next up, the Bulls will have some time off before playing host to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, January 12th at 7:00 PM CT. Boston currently touts a 7-3 record, but they might be shorthanded. The Celtics had nine players out for their Sunday matchup with the Miami Heat, most due to COVID-19. The Celtics-Heat game ended up being postponed because Miami didn’t have enough healthy players.
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