The Bulls had a see-saw battle against the Lakers in their 103-100 loss on Friday. To start the 4th quarter, the Bulls were on fire and causing chaos. They made the Lakers retreat and eventually erased what was once a 17-point deficit into a lead.
While it was a great moment, it was the last time the Bulls would put the ball in the basket in open play until the dying moments of the game.
Chicago’s offense completely vanished when they needed it, looking stagnant and the out of ideas. They reverted back to playing isolation basketball and just having guys try to take their man one on one. Their were also a calamity of errors as well. In the final 4 minute stretch, the Bulls had this happen:
- Turnover by Lauri Markkanen
- Two missed free throws by Zach LaVine
- Bad foul by LaVine, which led to a Julius Randle three-point play
- Missed dunk by Markkanen
I would have included the LaVine missed layup before the Markkanen missed dunk but he was clearly fouled on the way to the drive.
These mistakes were capitalized on by the Lakers, most specifically Brandon Ingram who capped off a stellar game with some clutch shots late. He had a nice drive against Justin Holiday, an assist to Randle, and this clutch pull-up jumper in the final minutes.
(1:48-1:55) This was essentially the dagger and Ingram showed what happens when you give him an inch of space to shoot. Ingram starts at the top of the left baseline near the half court and is guarded by Denzel Valentine. Julius Randle, who is guarded by Markkanen, comes and sets a pick on Valentine’s left. The pick forces Valentine back and he has to take some extra effort to get past Randle. Meanwhile Ingram glides to his right, towards the basket. Markkanen does a good job staying in front of Ingram but he goes back to Randle almost instantly. Between Markkanen going back and Valentine getting through the screen, Ingram is in totally control of this possession. Valentine gets back in front of by then, Ingram is halfway through his move. It doesn’t help that Valentine is more than an arms length away from Ingram. So when the forward rises up to challenge, there is only so much Valentine can do to in terms of contesting the shot. The net barely moves as Ingram knocks down a clutch jumper.
This Chicago team is going to have to continue to learn how to win these close games. They have been winning some of them since Nikola Mirotic’s return but they still have a lot of work to do, and having no Kris Dunn has obviously been a detriment.
Late game lineups run awry
Late in the game the Bulls ran a lineup of LaVine-Valentine-Holiday-Markkanen-Mirotic. While it was certainly smart to put your best offensive players on the court in crunch time, Fred Hoiberg could have gone a different way in how he played his back court lineup. He could have inserted David Nwaba, someone who is a defensive stopper and although his jumper is non-existent, certainly puts in a shift on offense too. Nwaba could have helped in those final moments and leaving him out of crunch time is a mistake Hoiberg sometimes makes.
Second time in a row that the Bulls have blown a game in crunch time when LaVine closes. They lost a 13 point lead in the last four minutes on Monday against the Pelicans w/ him.— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) January 27, 2018
Earlier in the game, Hoiberg ran Nwaba with Valentine in a non traditional PG lineup and it worked pretty well. If anything, Hoiberg should have at least tried to put Nwaba in during crunch time.