The Bulls laid an egg against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 101-69 loss Saturday night at the United Center. Both the Dallas Mavericks and the Hawks have one more loss than the Bulls in the ever important race for the worst record in the NBA.
Here’s all you really need to know to understand why the Bulls lost against the Thunder.
Bulls couldn't crack 70 points, shooting 28.6% from the field, 27% from 3, and had more TOs (19) than assists (16)— Mark (@mkarantzoulis) October 29, 2017
Here’s some other observations from the game.
Get Markkanen the Ball
Most of Markkanen’s damage from the field came in the first quarter (2-for-2 from the field for six points), because he was the beneficiary of some lazy Carmelo Anthony defense.
However, the Thunder adjusted by switching everything on pick and rolls and drifting out on him when he faded to the 3-point line on pick and rolls. The poor point guard play from the Bulls also probably contributed to Markkanen only shooting the ball seven times in the Bulls loss (for context, Justin Holiday shot the ball 16 times and Denzel Valentine shot it 12 times).
Hoiberg on Markkanen's 7 shots: "We missed him on several occasions. He was standing out there by himself. We tried to take extra dribbles."— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 29, 2017
The Bulls weren’t really creative in their use of Markkanen last night. He either drifts to the 3-point line off pick and rolls (which teams have to be scouting by now) or just hangs out behind the 3-point line when not put in a pick and roll.
How about the Bulls find novel ways to get Markkanen the ball? What if he actually rolls to the basket off pick and rolls instead of just drifting to the 3-point line? How about the Bulls try posting him up? How about giving him a chance to create for himself in isolation sets?
The league is adjusting to Markkanen and the Bulls have to be a step ahead.
Point Guard Position is an Open Competition
Hoiberg said PG position is "open" as they head towards hard practices this week.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) October 29, 2017
Jerian Grant, who continued to start on Saturday even with the return of Kris Dunn, had his worst game of the season.
Grant went 0-for-7 from the field even though many of his shot opportunities were open threes. Although he didn’t have any turnovers and recorded four assists, he continues to show an inability to run the offense. He takes forever to get the Bulls to run anything and often over dribbles or dribbles into trouble. He tries to get to the basket, but usually gets cut off before he gets to the paint and has to make a desperation pass to a 3-point shooter in the corner.
He barely played in the second half on Saturday because of his poor performance.
In his first game back since injuring his finger, Dunn played pretty well. He continues to be an impressive on-ball defender, actually made some jump shots, and had this nice spinning layup.
Dunn with a nice spin move and lefty finish. Bulls need someone who can get in the paint and finish pic.twitter.com/DItpAdALbP— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) October 29, 2017
His final line was eight points on 4-for-9 from the field, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, and four turnovers. The turnovers continue to be a huge issue for him. At the end of the game, it appeared he actually hurt his finger diving for his own, unforced turnover. However, he’s good for now.
Kay Felder played five garbage-time minutes. With Dunn back in the lineup, it looks like Felder’s playing time is probably going to be cut. He is an extremely flawed player, but at least he has some quickness and athleticism to his game, and although he’s spazzy he creates chaos in the lane which can help generate good looks for his teammates.
He’s really the Bulls only point guard who has the ability to break down a defense to any degree therefore he should receive playing time.
Where’s the Effort?
This can’t happen for this rebuilding Bulls team.
"We took a huge step in the wrong direction," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We didn't compete. Out body language sucked. It's very disappointing."
The Thunder were coming off the second night of a back-to-back. They had an emotionally exhausting loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. The Bulls hadn’t played since Thursday.
Westbrook had 12 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists last night and has now recorded a triple-double against every team in the NBA. He also found a way to mesmerize us with a rebound.
The Chicago Bulls return to action on Wednesday against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. The game begins at 6:30 p.m. Never fear though, the Bulls will be ready (via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic).