There are no two ways about it. The Chicago Bulls let the rope slip through their hands in a 112-107 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday.
They were up by as many as 20 points in the second quarter and 63-48 at the half. They’d connected on 56.6% of their field-goal attempts and 44.4% of their shots beyond the arc.
Alex Caruso was ringing up assists both left…
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine shot a combined 14-for-21 from the field for 33 points. Meanwhile, their star counterparts Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum took more turnovers (3) than made field goals (1) into the break thanks, in large part, to Caruso and Lonzo Ball’s pesky defense.
Letting It Slip
When McCollum finally got on the board at the 11:02 mark of the third quarter, the Bulls (10-5) still held a 66-50 edge. And then it all began to cave in under the weight of their 10 third-quarter turnovers (three apiece from DeRozan and LaVine), which the Blazers turned into 18 points to make it an 85-81 game entering the fourth quarter.
A pair of free throws from Javonte Green pumped the lead back to 89-81 early in the quarter. But a 13-3 run capped by McCollum’s 28-foot three-pointer completely erased the lead the Bulls had maintained since the 10:20 mark of the first quarter.
The lead changed hands six times thereafter and LaVine missed a wide-open three out of a timeout that would’ve knotted the game at 110 with less than 10 seconds left in regulation.
After a torrid first half, LaVine, who finished with 30 points with a season-high seven made three-pointers, and DeRozan, who scored 22 points but not a single one after the third quarter, shot just 3-for-15 in the fourth quarter.
Lillard and McCollum finished just 10-for-32 from the field but combined to score 18 of the Blazers’ 31 fourth-quarter points.
Ball (17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks) and Caruso (12 points, a team-high 10 rebounds and 9 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks) were the only other Bulls to reach double figures in scoring.
The Bulls’ bench was outscored 35-20. Chicago also lost the fight on the glass with Jusuf Nurkic snatching down a half dozen boards on both sides of the court to go along with his 18 points.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls wrap up their West Coast road trip, on which they are now 2-2, against reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets (9-5) Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 PM CST and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.
For further Bulls analysis, updates, and commentary all season long, tune in to the Bulls On Tap podcast.