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Bulls earn a lump of coal on Christmas

NBA: Chicago Bulls at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago fell to two games below .500 (14-16) after Sunday’s Christmas festivities falling to the San Antonio Spurs 119-100.

The Spurs, namely LaMarcus Aldridge jumped out on the Bulls to start the game, with an 8-0 run in the first few minutes. Their run continued as they mounted their lead all the way to 28-8, with Aldridge hitting on his first 10 shots. It wasn’t until there was 4:12 left in the opening quarter that the Bulls reached double digits.

As the end of the opening quarter neared and the Bulls much-maligned bench unit came in, it was them who began Chicago’s crawl back into the game. The Bulls ended the first half on a 17-8 run, capped off by a buzzer beating three by Jerian Grant. Their run continued into the second quarter behind Nikola Mirotic and company, punishing the Spurs in the paint, on the offensive boards, and forcing turnovers. The Bulls managed to climb back into the game by half, only down five, 50-55.

I will say, it was nice watching this team fight through some adversity at the beginning of this game to making it a contest. However, that feeling wouldn’t last long.

Chicago came out in the second half strong, with the starters picking up where the bench left off. A Jimmy Butler three from the corner gave the Bulls their first lead of the game at 70-67 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. Although that wouldn’t last long as the bench unit who clawed this team back into the game in the first half, gave it right back at the end of the third. San Antonio went on a 20-4 run in the final 4:56 to take a 87-74 lead going into the final period.

The Bulls, who were 0-10 when going into the final period trailing after three, bumped that number to 0-11. It was two three’s from San Antonio’s Danny Green via Dwyane Wade’s inattentive defense that pushed their lead further. A Kawhi Leonard three at the end of the shot clock over a contesting Jerian Grant a few possessions later was the nail in the coffin.

Chicago was outscored in the paint 36-20 in the second half, missing far too many defensive rotations, resulting in too many second chance points for the Spurs. Again, this loss was yet another culmination of too many miscues on both ends of the floor. Which, as we’ve seen has become the norm for this team.

Having now lost nine of their past 12 games, the Bulls return home tomorrow night against the Indiana Pacers. If there’s one thing to be optimistic about is that it appears Michael Carter-Williams could return to action. But this team is going to need a LOT more than and then some, to get this ship turned around.