The Chicago Bulls traveled to Oklahoma City to take on Billy Donovan’s old team. The two squads met in the preseason with the Bulls winning both matchups, but Friday generated a different result. Once up 22, the Bulls stole a 127-125 loss from the jaws of victory.
The Bulls had a commanding lead throughout the first half before letting it dwindle away through the very effective process of not playing any defense and producing little offense. After scoring 30 and 38 points in the first and second quarters respectively, the Bulls scored 27 and 23 in the third and fourth frames. Meanwhile, they let the Thunder score 37 in the third and 31 in the fourth before mailing it in during overtime to lose.
Who Would Have Thought It: Turnovers
Hey, guess what? The Chicago Bulls turned the ball over a ton. They managed an impressive 24 turnovers, and the Thunder scored 33 points off of those turnovers.
Zach LaVine, for all of his 30-plus point games, managed another six turnovers, often losing the ball when nobody was putting pressure on him. Not to be outdone, Coby White chipped in four turnovers of his own. Shockingly, there was only one player without two turnovers, and that was Garrett Temple. At one point, Patrick Williams literally dribbled a ball off of his foot. Players were chucking the ball around on offense to the other team. It’s a mess, and it’s clear the Bulls are not getting better with their ball security.
Lauri Markkanen played in his first game since December 29th when he entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Billy Donovan played him 35 minutes, and he chipped in 16 points and six rebounds. He shot the ball 14 times and only made five, good for 35% from the field. It’s clear there was some rust, but it is good for the Bulls to have him back either way as they evaluate if he’s a piece for the future or someone to trade at the deadline.
Otto And The Vets
Otto Porter Jr. also returned to action after dealing with back spasms. He only played 25 minutes, but he put together a solid performance with eight points and eight rebounds. His steady veteran presence will be important as the Bulls try to figure out whatever it is they’re putting on the floor each night.
Interestingly, Thaddeus Young only played 13 minutes. The forward was disgruntled last season with his lack of minutes, and you can imagine he didn’t like riding the bench during such a close game. He didn’t have a great showing when he was on the floor, but it is still something to keep an eye on.
What’s On Tap Next
The Chicago Bulls take on the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, January 17th at 2:00 PM CT. The Mavericks are sitting at 6-5 and looking to propel themselves further up the standings in the Western Conference. Let’s see if the Bulls can get the ball rolling again. And by get the ball rolling again, I mean stop the ball from rolling to the other team on every other possession.
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