Despite what you may have thought before the Chicago Bulls' Saturday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks, we learned that only putting up 12 points in a quarter is not a viable strategy for winning. Oddly enough, the Bulls also tried out scoring 12 points on April 21st against the Cavaliers. It also didn't work out then, in case you were wondering. Anyway, let's break down the Bulls' 108-97 loss.
The Bulls came into their matchup with the Hawks hurting — literally. Before the game, the injury report looked rough. Zach LaVine, Troy Brown Jr., and future Dancing With the Stars champion (probably) Cristiano Felicio were confirmed absences. Furthermore, big men Nikola Vucevic and Lauri Markkanen were listed as questionable. For a brief moment, it was announced that Vucevic would be active for the game.
Of course, because this is the Bulls, Vucevic's status downgraded to "out" about an hour later.
What a whirlwind of emotions. At the end of that journey, we all pretty much knew that this meant Al-Farouq Aminu was going to play, and that was going to make it a bad time.
And it was, indeed, a bad time. The Bulls actually put together a decent first half. They led at the half 63-54 after an impressive 37-point second quarter. Patrick Williams and Tomas Satoransk -- both critiqued for their passivity this year -- were playing aggressively and getting to the basket. It looked like the team was going to step up without their two All-Stars.
(Side note: Can you believe the Bulls have two All Stars and are 26-38? That's amazing in the worst way.)
After riding a hot streak into half, the Bulls subsequently came out flat in the third. They put up 12 points to Atlanta's 28, and Trae Young and the Hawks never looked back. The Bulls shot 25% from deep and 65% from the free-throw line. These numbers coupled with the Hawks making nine more threes, shooting -- and making -- nine more free throws, and out-rebounding the Bulls by five led to the Bulls putting up less than 100 points for the third straight game. The Hawks came out on top 108-97.
A Couple of Good Things
While most of his aggressive play came in the first half before dying down, Patrick Williams still finished the game with 19 points on 7/13 shooting. It is just the 15th time this season he has taken ten shots or more in a game. The rookie is shooting 47.7% from the field and 37.7% from three on the season, and fans and analysts alike have been calling for him to take more of an aggressive offensive approach. There's still a lot of work to do, but hopefully this starts a trend of more offense coming from 2020's fourth overall pick.
Thaddeus Young also played an awesome game. He logged a team-high 20 points, a team-high nine assists, and tied for second on the team with seven rebounds in 33 minutes. While the Bulls were not able to make up for the offense lost by Vucevic and Felicio (who combine for 24.8 points per game on average), Young did his best to try to keep them in the game.
A Couple of Bad Things
Bad Coby White showed up tonight. His inconsistency has been something that has infuriated Bulls fans this season, but it seemed like he was starting to put it together in LaVine's absence. Tonight, White shot a team-high 16 shots and only made five, good for 31.3%. It would have been the worst on the team had Markkanen not selflessly bailed him out by shooting 30%. White also contributed four turnovers (.75 assist/turnover ratio) and five fouls. It wasn't pretty.
Al-Farouq Aminu played. That's probably all that needs to be said. He played 12 minutes of possibly the most uncoordinated basketball you have seen in recent memory.
As for the rest of the Bulls, no one else scored over 10 points. Yet again, the absence of Zach LaVine was made painfully clear. Of course, it is not as easy as plugging in LaVine’s scoring average to the game total, thus making the Bulls the winner. Still, the Bulls can’t get their All-Star guard back soon enough.Advertisements
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls next play against the 42-21 Philadelphia 76ers on Monday at 8:00 PM CDT. The game will air on NBC Sports Chicago. The Sixers are just half-a-game out of the top seed in the Eastern Conference, so they will want to put this game away in convincing fashion. So, you know, the Bulls will probably somehow win the game to hurt their odds of getting a top-four pick. Classic Bulls.