As pointed out in the recap of last night’s loss, the Bulls were a -14 in the 8 minutes where Jimmy Butler didn’t play. A lot of that goes to the bench players for Chicago, who were outscored by their Lakers counterparts by 40, and who’ve we’ve seen blow early leads including last night.
That continued a recent trend that’s seen Chicago bleed points late in first quarters and/or early in second quarters when the reserves take over. In a recent loss at Denver, the Bulls’ second unit was the primary culprit in a 24-0 run by the Nuggets. Even in a blowout win at Philadelphia last Friday, the lone slump of significance for Chicago came with a reserve-laden group in early.
Entering Tuesday’s game, the two most-used five-man Bulls units that were anchored by the Portis-Mirotic pairing down low had defensive ratings of 111.9 and 145.4. The Lakers then went out and exploited that weakness, outscoring the Bulls, 19-7, in the approximately 5 1/2 minutes Portis and Mirotic played together Wednesday.
The ‘Portis as backup center’ problem has been written about previously here. One way out is to try the more defensively-capable Cristiano Felicio in that role. But other ways are just waiting for MCW to come back and help defense at the point of attack, and/or have McDermott return to at least get the bench units to out-score teams.
Until then, as Westerlund relays from Hoiberg, it could mean more staggering the minutes of Robin Lopez and Taj Gibson. But as Westerlund pointed out: “disaster has struck so swiftly that the minor adjustments have mattered little.”
And to end on a fun(?) note, here’s a Niko Mirotic sequence from yesterday.