Heading into the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks, the Chicago Bulls had a really good chance to win the game, only down 88-84 and having Zach LaVine on fire from the field. Fast forward a little over halfway through the quarter, it’s 109-95, and the Bulls are suddenly out of it.
It was a whirlwind of points scored in the first chunk of the 4th by Dallas, accumulating to 21 points in the first 8 minutes. Fred Hoiberg rolled out a lineup to start the quarter which featured Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker in the frontcourt. This seemed to be a recipe for disaster, and it bore out as the Mavs feasted on Chicago’s defensive mistakes. It all started with one of the first possessions.
One of these things is not like the other pic.twitter.com/wD2Wbh5Mag— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) October 23, 2018
This was one of the many infuriating sequences the Bulls went through in the final quarter. On the offensive end, they looked out of sorts and stagnant. Justin Holiday tried to make something happen and he ended up nearly losing the ball, kicking it out to Cam Payne on the three-point line. Now there’s only 10 seconds left in the shot clock and the Bulls have to scramble for a shot. The possession ends in Payne trying a floater while falling away to his right and it clanked off the backboard and into the arms of Dwight Powell.
As JJ Barea brings the ball up the court, you see Chandler Hutchison go to the near corner. The rookie was a step late getting to his man in Jalen Brunson because as soon as he got there, Brunson went right past him. Barea spotted him and flashed a pass straight to the Villanova as he cut towards the basket. Justin Holiday, who was guarding his man in the other corner was closest to the hoop so he collapsed for help defense. Parker was supposed to be next in rotating over to cover Holiday’s man but he was late in recognizing the pass from Brunson to the corner. By the time he got there, it was swung to Maxi Kleiber who rose up and knocked down a three.
Below was another basket during the run, one that extended the Dallas lead to double digits.
Here, Kris Dunn and Portis are guarding a pick and roll between Barea and Powell. Off the pick, Portis steps to stop Barea and there looks to be some sort of miscommunication with Dunn as Powell slips past both of them towards the lane. It was even questionable as to why Portis stepped up so far away from the basket and the three-point line to begin with. Again, Barea sees the open man and fires it to Powell at the free-throw line. Parker slides down to cut off the drive and help. However it leaves an opening for Kleiber to slip backdoor and Powell finds him for the impressive reverse finish.
Starting the season off 0-3 is a frustrating for the Bulls, especially considering they were in it during the 4th for the last two. Rotation decisions by Fred Hoiberg and the ever-present bad defense were their undoing.
The Bulls shot 51% from the field and even better percentage from three at 57%. Those are outstanding numbers and most teams win shooting the ball like that.
But the Bulls also gave up a ton of three-point attempts in this one. Dallas shot 47 times from downtown and although they only knocked down 15 of them, it’s not a good sign for the Bulls to be letting opponents fire from deep so much. If this seems like something we saw from the Chicago defense last season, it’s absolutely the case.
The Bulls are allowing 41 3's per game, worst in the league. That would break the record of 32.7 per game set by.... (dramatic pause).....last year's Bulls.— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) October 23, 2018
Defensive errors will often be the reason why Chicago will lose games this season and it sadly will waste some great offensive performances.
LaVine shines (on offense)
Speaking of great offensive performances, Zach LaVine had himself another big game. For the third straight game in a row, he dropped 30 or more points, dropping 34 on 11 of 15 shooting with 5 of them being three-pointers.
He started the game on fire and literally couldn’t miss from the floor in the first half. Not only was his shooting on point, but so was his tenaciousness in attacking the rim. LaVine had some poster dunks in this game, including one where he adjusted mid air and slammed it home all in one motion.
There is no doubt LaVine has been Chicago’s best player this entire season. He looks like a man on a mission offensively, and super fun to watch. There still is a ton of work for him to do defensively, though, and as mentioned above these performance will be for naught if he and the team doesn’t improve on that end.
Jabari had a good half
For the third straight game, Parker scored double digits off the bench for Chicago. He might not like role but it doesn’t mean he isn’t producing. Parker was aggressive with the second unit, driving to hoop and forcing the Dallas bigs to defend. In the end he finished with 20 points on 8 of 14 shooting.
Jabari Parker knocking down a three early making this possible. Need this from Parker off the bench. pic.twitter.com/ChEsiKS660— Jordan Maly (@JordanCMaly) October 23, 2018