Like their first game in Toronto, the home opener for the Chicago Bulls had a decent start followed by a horrible rest. Chicago had a very solid first half and only trailed the San Antonio Spurs 51-48 at halftime. However, it was the third quarter that did Chicago in this time. The Bulls got outscored 24-17 in the 3rd and it was the decisive quarter in the contest. In the end, it was a 87-77 win for San Antonio and Chicago dropped to 0-2 on the season.
Surprisingly, only three San Antonio Spurs scored double digits in this contest, with LaMarcus Aldridge having the biggest impact. He lead the Spurs with 28 points and continued his great track record against the team that traded him on draft night. In his 21 games played against the Bulls so far, Aldridge has averaged 21 points and 8.6 rebounds.
He was efficient shooting the ball, going 12 of 24 from the field, and took advantage of his matchups. Aldridge exploited the mistakes of the Bulls defense and had a plethora of open jump shots all night.
This here was a very pretty play by the Spurs. It starts with Manu Ginobili giving the ball to Pau Gasol at the top of the key. Right after doing so, he goes down to the block and sets a pick on Robin Lopez, who is guarding Aldridge. It was a good job by Ginobili for doing just enough to impede the big man and essentially forced Jerian Grant, who was guarding him on the play, to switch onto Aldridge. However Grant realized they were switching way too late and by that time, Aldridge had already caught the ball with nobody around him. It was a very easy catch and shoot jumper from the free throw line for LMA.
Again, this was a play where Aldridge took advantage of the defense of Grant and Lopez. This time the action is a pick and roll between him and Dejounte Murray. The Spurs point guard is standing at the top of the three-point line and gets a screen from Aldridge on his left side. Lopez, who knows that stepping up on the defensive switch would give him a lot of problems, stays back and chooses to defend the paint instead. It was the smart, and likely only, choice Lopez had on this play cause moving forward to challenge Murray would likely result in the guard going right by him on a drive. Due to Lopez dropping back and Grant just getting through the screen, Aldridge is able to easily find a spot all alone at the top of the key. Just like in the first clip, there is nobody around Aldridge when he hits the jumper. Lauri Markkanen showed a little bit of help defense before going right back to his man who had ran to the three-point line but that’s it.
With his extended range of shooting combined with the lack of closeout speed by Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge was able to have another big night against the Bulls.
Another great game from Lauri Markkanen
Lauri Markkanen had a very good NBA debut and his solid play continued against San Antonio. The Finnish superstar grabbed 12 rebounds to go along with his 13 points and record his first (of hopefully many) double-double. He knocked down three triples in his performance.
Couple threes and a nice scoop for the rookie pic.twitter.com/fUOQFYEIMm— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) October 22, 2017
But it wasn’t just stand-still threes, as Fred Hoiberg said post-game:
“Sometimes you get labeled as a shooter. That’s kind of the label that Lauri had. But he really is a complete basketball player. He’s versatile. He can put the ball on the deck. He slides his feet very well for a guy who’s 7-feet tall at his age.”
In a season where the Bulls are going to be really bad, the development of Markkanen will be something to keep an eye on more than anything.
Robin Lopez hits a three...for the first time ever
It was a historic moment in the United Center as we saw Robin Lopez hit his first ever three-pointer.
This seems to be something which Lopez is clearly trying to integrate in his game little by little with four attempts in the first two games. Who knows how effective he will be but it’s nice to see Lopez adapting to Hoiball! It must be from the coach, as he’s not taking advice from his brother.
Robin Lopez, on whether he’s asked for any 3-point shooting tips from his accomplished twin, Brook: “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 22, 2017