After a close loss to the Denver Nuggets the night before, the Chicago Bulls once again fell just short against another Western Conference rival. At home in the United Center, the Bulls suffered their 18th loss of the season against the Sacramento Kings 107-106.
It was a tightly contested game with neither team pulling away from each other at any point of the contest. But Sacramento made the plays when needed to and took advantage of some defensive mistakes by the Bulls to secure the win.
The key played occurred with 30 seconds left in the contest with the Kings leading 103-101 and Chicago desperately needing a stop.
The play begins with Zach Randolph holding the ball near the top of the circle. He’s being guarded by Robin Lopez. Meanwhile his fellow front court mate Willie Cauley-Stein has a mismatch on him and is being guarded by Justin Holiday. With the smaller guy on Cauley-Stein, Randolph makes the smart play and tosses the ball into the post. As soon as WCS catches the ball in the post, Kris Dunn and Jerian Grant rush in to help out on defending him. Even Lauri Markkanen steps in and it seems like the entire Chicago defense collapsed in as soon as the post pass was made. However, Grant was the only one who fully collapsed in on the post man and left his man completely open. The problem was he left him open for too long. De’Aaron Fox, who was being guarded by Grant, was sitting in the corner when Chicago’s defense collapsed in on the post. It left Fox wide open in the right corner. Given he’s only a 39.9% shooter from the field and is a 26.7% three-point shooter, it would be fine for Chicago to leave him open and force him to take a jump shot. However Grant committed a little too much into the post, going all the way over to the other side of the paint. His actions gave Fox an option to cut straight towards the basket for an easy dunk. Which is exactly what he did. As soon as WCS caught the ball, he looked up and saw Fox gunning towards the hoop. One simple bounce pass to the rookie and it was an easy dunk for De’Aaron Fox.
After the basket was made, the game was essentially over. Chicago tried to storm back quickly but fell short in the effort. It was overall a very entertaining game and that’s from someone who saw the game live from the UC. It was back and forth and the Bulls competed until the end. In the end, Chicago displayed some defensive mistakes which costed the game and brought back similar flashbacks to how they did the night before in Denver. In these two straight one-point losses, it has been defensive errors which have decided the game.