For awhile, it looked like the Chicago Bulls were undermining their own tank en route to their third victory of the season, but the New Orleans Pelicans outscored the Bulls 13-7 in overtime to earn a 96-90 victory Saturday night at the United Center.
It was another high-effort loss for the Bulls who were playing in their first back-to-back of the season after an emotional victory against the Orlando Magic Friday night, with the Pelicans just playing the night before as well. There was an additional schedule quirk as the Bulls had already seen the New Orleans Pelicans twice in preseason.
And just like in those preseason games, the Pelicans dynamic duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis dominated the Bulls. Cousins boogied off some early shooting struggles to pour in 25 points and grab 11 rebounds while Davis had a relatively quiet (if possible with this statline) 27 point, 16 rebound performance. As expected, both Lauri Markkanen and Cristiano Felicio had a ton of trouble defensively against the Pelicans All-Star duo.
Nonetheless, the Bulls made this a highly competitive game as the score was tied at an ugly 38-38 score at halftime and the Bulls actually gained a seven point advantage at the start of the fourth quarter. The Pelicans quickly regained the lead at the 9:25 mark in the fourth quarter after Darius Miller poured in a three and the two teams switched off leading for the remainder of the period.
With the game tied, both teams failed to hit big shots after the 1:30 mark in the final period. After an ugly Jrue Holiday miss with about four seconds remaining in regulation, the Bulls had an opportunity for one last play. Unfortunately, the in-bound play that head coach Fred Hoiberg drew up wasn’t executed properly.
Bulls sideline out play for a winner did not go well pic.twitter.com/xA5l3uwkbC— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) November 5, 2017
After a mostly solid game, Robin Lopez was miserable down the stretch. He lost his touch around the basket, had a costly traveling violation in overtime, and then preceded to foul Cousins out at the 3-point line which allowed the King’s big man to extend the lead to five points with 2:35 remaining in overtime. Cousins had six points in the overtime period, and Anthony Davis contributed with this incredible block and possession-saving play.
The Bulls shot just 2-for-9 from the field in overtime, capping off an overall forgettable shooting night (35.4 percent from the field; 26.2 percent from 3-point land). The sheer quantity of 3-point field goals they attempted (42) kept them around in this game even though they made just 11 of these shots.
Denzel Valentine quietly staked his claim as player of the game for the Bulls with a 15-point performance on 6-for-10 shooting (4-for-7 from 3-point land). Valentine played a lot down the stretch as starter David Nwaba suffered an ugly ankle injury.
Even though Valentine’s overall shooting percentage is awful this season, he’s hitting 3-point field goals at a 39 percent clip for the entire year which is the second-best mark on the team behind Markkanen.
Speaking of Markkanen: he was off on Saturday night, but continued to make history.
The Bulls rookie revelation scored 14 points, but shot 5-for-16 from the field and 2-for-9 from the 3-point line. The two 3-point field goals did come down the stretch in the fourth quarter, so that clutch gene he displayed throughout EuroBasket this summer and in the Bulls win against the Atlanta Hawks earlier this season is still there somewhere. However, he did go 0-2 from distance in the extra period, and was beat a couple times on defense down the stretch.
Just like last Wednesday against the Miami Heat, Markkanen found other ways to score when his shot wasn’t falling. This time the fake pass, hesitation blow-by was his move of choice.
Outside shot isn't falling tonight, so Lauri goes to the hoop, and that works out just fine pic.twitter.com/DK0EOcCdLF— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) November 5, 2017
Markkanen has scored double-digit points in his first eight NBA games. He joined Michael Jordan, Toni Kukoc, and Derrick Rose as the only Chicago Bulls players to accomplish that feat.
The tank rolls on Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Center. Game time is 6:30 p.m. and WGN will broadcast.