The Chicago Bulls limped (figuratively and literally) into Milwaukee to take on the Bucks on Friday night. They've been without Patrick Williams all year, and having Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Derrick Jones Jr., and Javonte Green out hasn't been helping. A primetime matchup on ESPN looked very troublesome for a broken-down Bulls team. Surprisingly, they held their own throughout the game. Ultimately, their shots didn't fall, and they fell short of their ultimate goal, losing 90 to 94.
The Set Up
As mentioned previously, the Bulls have been without a significant portion of their major contributors for a while now. Taking on the defending NBA champions without two of their biggest stars and several other key pieces didn't look too appetizing. The Bulls came into the game barely holding onto the first seed in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Bucks came in as the fourth-place team out East.
One fun aspect of the game leading up to tip was Tyler Cook entering the starting lineup at power forward. You have to love a feel-good story of a guy going from a 10-day contract to a two-way contract, then getting his contract fully guaranteed and starting a primetime game.
First and foremost, the Bulls' shooting was, well, less than ideal. It was rough all night long, and they just couldn't get anything going from behind the arc outside of Matt Thomas (as we all saw coming). The Bulls shot just 36% from the field and a pitiful 18% from three on 38 attempts. Yes, they made seven threes all night, and three of them were from Thomas.
DeMar DeRozan still got his, which was impressive because no one else on the Bulls had anything going offensively. The MVP candidate had 35 points on 9-of-18 shooting and an absurd 17-of-18 from the free-throw line. DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic (19), and--the legend himself--Matt Thomas (11) were the only Bulls players to score in double figures. Oh, and the aforementioned Tyler Cook was pretty fun to watch.
Of course, the Bucks struggled shooting, too. Milwaukee shot 39% from the floor and 19% from deep. The Bulls did an excellent job defensively on Milwaukee, and they hustled their hearts out on the floor, but the Bucks just converted more when it mattered. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 and gathered 12 boards to lead the Bucks. Kris Middleton (16 and 10) and Bobby Portis (12 and 13) joined Antetokounmpo with points/rebounds double-doubles.
Props and Drops
There are definitely some props to give the Bulls. They had absolutely no business being in this game, and many were expecting a blowout win for Milwaukee. Truly, the Bulls were in the game throughout its entirety, and their hustle showed up down to the closing seconds as they frantically tried to score on their last possession.
Still, Chicago's last two possessions pretty much summarized the game. With a chance to get a two-for-one, Vucevic passed out of a mismatch with Jrue Holiday to DeRozan who was seemingly expecting Vucevic to take Holiday to the rim. That sequence, combined with DeRozan fumbling the ball before getting off an awkward shot and missing, gave Milwaukee the ball without a shot clock. Then, on the final possession, the Bulls got rushed look after hurried look, poetically missing three shots in 12 seconds to give the Bucks the victory.
What's On Tap Next?
The Chicago Bulls get Saturday off before visiting the 8-39 Orlando Magic on Sunday. Obviously, the Bulls will still be severely shorthanded, but they should still be able to hold their own against the team with the worst record in the NBA. You can catch that game on NBC Sports Chicago at 5:00 PM CT. Follow along with us for all your Bulls news and needs.