On Friday night, the Chicago Bulls dropped their fifth consecutive game, losing 126-115 to the Memphis Grizzlies. Since the Nikola Vucevic trade, the Bulls are 3-9 and have struggled mightily on the defensive end.
The Bulls came into this game on the heels of finding out that Zach LaVine would miss a significant amount of time due to the NBA's health and safety protocols. Additionally, Tomas Satoransky was ruled out of this game as he recovers from a back injury.
Without two of their main starters, the Bulls had to roll out a new lineup that marked the return of Coby White to the starting group.
The Grizzlies were also missing some key contributors in Brandon Clarke, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Justice Winslow.
With both teams dealing with several injuries, other players had to step up. The Bulls looked to even the season series in this game as they lost the last matchup in Memphis a couple of nights ago.
With Zach LaVine and Tomas Satoransky both sidelined, the Bulls had to rely on both Nikola Vucevic and Coby White to provide scoring. White had a strong game in his return to the starting lineup scoring 23 points and dishing out seven assists. Vucevic continued his dominant play of late by scoring 24 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. However, these contributions were not enough to take the Bulls over the line.
The Grizzlies were led by Dillon Brooks who exploded for 32 points in 29 minutes and was well supported by Ja Morant and others.
The game was tied 57-57 heading into halftime, but like other games, the Bulls simply were unable to get consistent stops and failed to take the lead during the second half. The Grizzlies shot 63.4% from the field and 53.3% from the three-point line in the second half. Poor defense is not a recipe for success and the Bulls struggled to catch up.
While White played well, the performance of Lauri Markkanen has become a major concern. Not only is he playing poorly, but he has also lost a great deal of confidence. The Bulls will hope Markkanen can finish strong, but it is hard to expect that at this juncture of the season based on recent performance.
The Bulls are in a tough spot. With LaVine out for more games, it is hard to expect this team to compete for a playoff spot. With also trading away their first-round pick, there is not much sense in attempting to tank. It will be interesting to see how the Bulls perform in upcoming games.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls will be back in action on Saturday night when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM CT and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago. Tune in to the Bulls On Tap podcast for postgame shows and further Bulls analysis and commentary.