The Bulls resembled a competent basketball team for about 40 minutes against a decent Pacers squad on Wednesday night in Indy. Chicago led by as many as 17 points in the game, 16 points in the fourth quarter and held a 92-79 advantage with just over seven minutes to play after a Paul Zipser triple.
Then the Bulls remembered they’re the Bulls and completely collapsed. The Pacers finished the game on a 19-4 run, with Victor Oladipo finally putting the home team up in the final minute on a 3-pointer in transition. It came off a clownishly bad Denzel Valentine turnover:
Bulls have turned it over a ton down the stretch. Indy takes the lead. pic.twitter.com/jFyK2rhOqs— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) December 7, 2017
Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkenen (struggled with his shot again) both missed go-ahead attempts to secure a 10th straight loss that drops the Bulls to 3-20 on the season.
While I’m Team Tank, this kind of loss is a bit disheartening. To play so well for so long only to cough it up with a complete choke down the stretch isn’t great, especially considering just how bad the Bulls looked to close out the game. They shot 5-of-18 and turned it over six times in the final frame after shooting over 52 percent and turning it over only 10 times through the first three quarters. This is the third time during the streak the Bulls have blown a huge lead like this. At some point it would be nice to see them close out these kinds of games.
The gag spoiled another strong effort from Dunn, who stuffed the stat sheet with 18/6/6. He did have four turnovers, with two coming during the fourth-quarter collapse, but overall he had a nice, aggressive game. He was a key factor in the fast start with 8/5 in a 30-point Bulls first quarter, with several vicious attacks of the basket.
Five other Bulls scored in double figures, including 16 from Robin Lopez and 15 from Valentine. Valentine knocked down four 3-pointers and had a few nifty dimes, but his struggles inside the paint continued. He went 1-of-6 on 2-pointers and had that ugly turnover at the end.
The Bulls ran out to their 17-point lead early in the second quarter thanks to Valentine’s 3-point shooting and a spirited effort by the bench. David Nwaba had 11 points and continues to be a nice spark off the pine, while Bobby Portis had 12/7 and Zipser knocked down both his 3s. Some solid defense and ugly Pacers shot selection aided the Bulls as they grew their lead.
But it was all for naught. Oladipo had another big game with 27 points to lead the comeback. 11 of those points came in the fourth quarter as his career year continues.
The Bulls have Thursday off before a back-to-back in Charlotte and then back home against the Knicks. I actually do think the Bulls get one of these games. I think. Maybe.