After a long rest and what Fred Hoiberg was hoping to be the best practice of the season...the Bulls came out of the gates in Miami looking dreadful and shooting 2-13 form the field. They were down 15 early in the first half, then had nice stretches to even take the lead at a point, then fell apart in the 4th, then hit a few desperation threes to lose merely 97-91 to the Heat.
Those few threes brought the Bulls total to a still-awful 7-28 line...only very slightly obscuring that for most of the game they were a ghastly 2-21 from behind the arc. Justin Holiday and Jerian Grant kept up their awful distance shooting from this whole season up until the final couple minutes when the game was already out of reach.
The good news is that there was stretches of good play in there led by Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. Though Markkanen has been very good in his initial few NBA games, this one may have been his most impressive one yet in how he adjusted to Miami putting smaller defenders on him and was still able to score with versatility.
Lauri Markkanen Floater pic.twitter.com/zoBFmSbjRI— Gustavo Vega (@iamvega1982) November 2, 2017
Markkanen finished with a game-high 25 points even though he was a relatively-cold 2-7 from distance, which is a great sign.
While the starters put the Bulls in a hole, it was when Kris Dunn entered game as the backup PG when the Bulls were able to get going a bit. Most glaringly different from starter Jerian Grant was his defense, as Dunn had 2 highlight-blocks early while hounding the primary ballhandler. Dunn also had a little less tunnel-vision on offense, and definitely showed off his athleticism advantage in this posterization of Kelly Olynyk:
Kris Dunn just smoshed on Olynyk pic.twitter.com/lY4yuF5eEk— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) November 2, 2017
However, Dunn was not nearly as impressive in the second half, and ultimately finished with 5 turnovers and missing 10 of his 15 shots in 30 minutes. The Bulls tried a 2-PG lineup late with he and Grant on the floor together, and while that actually may be the best backcourt combination, that says more about the sorry state of the Bulls roster than anything else. It was also when Miami went on another run.
An earlier Heat run was earlier in the second half with Dunn leading bench players like Denzel Valentine and Paul Zipser being all kinds of awful. David Nwaba received the start in this game on the wing, and he did enough to secure the role by merely contributing something and not missing a ton of shots. Cristiano Felicio wasn’t that bad out there, but his +/- was worst on the team as Robin Lopez was featured again in this one, putting up 17 shots towards 22 points. Lopez was kind of part of a mini-meltdown in the 4th quarter as the Heat were in the penalty early in the period and they couldn’t stop sending them to the line. That’s something we saw a bit of last season as well, and may just be a staple of a Fred Hoiberg discipline’d squad. Another staple is the losing. At least Markkanen looked very good, but the bigger roles for other guys is just more showing their limitations (and the coach too).
The final flurry of threes made this game a bit closer than it probably ‘deserved’ to be, but then again simply by randomness the Bulls aren’t going to miss that many threes early in the game either. They did look more competitive than their blowout loss to the Thunder, but some of it was a relative lack of quality from the opponent, but the one-two punch of Goran Dragic (20 points, 6 assists) and a returning Hassan Whiteside (13 points, 12 rebounds) was enough. The Bulls next game is against the somehow-good Magic in two nights.