In what was a pretty entertainingly-paced game, the Bulls experienced a fourth quarter lull then frantic comeback that was almost completed. Unfortunately, after stealing the inbounds on what should’ve been a game-sealing possession for the San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls starting point guard Ryan Arcidiacono missed a desperate fall-away shot while falling to the floor, sealing the loss at 108-107.
That was appropriate, and I’ll even give the lil’ PG who John Paxson says ‘we don’t talk about enough’ the use of his real name, as he had the best game of his early career in this one. It looked like the Spurs had the game sown up late in the fourth after an emphatic LaMarcus Aldridge and-one, when two assisted Arch-from-beyond-the-arc baskets got them to within one again. It was the 3rd and 4th made threes of the night for him, finishing with 22 points on 12 shot attempts, which is still a lot of attempts for him!
Before that, it was Zach LaVine hitting 4 straight jumpers that kept the Bulls to begin the final quarter. But he waned after that, and in the last real play for the Bulls made this awful decision with the ball, going isolation from beyond the arc.
Fred wants a Wendell screen. LaVine clears it out and takes a deep 3.— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 27, 2018
Bulls lose. pic.twitter.com/kHCaBTgcrb
It was a real up and down game from the Bulls best player, as he did have that brilliant stretch in the second half, but also had a first half going 4-12 with 5 turnovers, and had the usual curious Zach LaVine off-ball defensive strategy moments throughout. Zach did wind up with a decent line, 7 assists is great (this was particularly nice), and good to see his 3 point shooting back up a bit (3/8), but that last ‘call’ by him was a bad one. Though he had hit several difficult long jumpers earlier in the night and that is somewhat his calling card overall, that was particularly difficult and took up way too much clock considering they were still down.
It is also painfully obvious that the Bulls struggle mightily with LaVine off the court. The Bulls bench laid another stinker with 14 points total. In both halves, when they came in things went bad.
Hoiberg closed the first quarter with a lineup of Payne/Harrison/Holiday/Hutchison/Lopez.— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) November 27, 2018
I've seen some bad offenses in Chicago, but that one might top them all. pic.twitter.com/vjVtd9fyx0
Hoiberg called a timeout and subbed out Payne right after he took this shot. Yeesh. pic.twitter.com/I4YjB2oCwN— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) November 27, 2018
Cameron Payne was -14 in 9 minutes, which is pretty difficult to do in a close game like this one. While Chandler Hutchison did return after a 3 game absence (or did he? he’s hard to notice...) meaning those minutes were taken, Payne looked to have supplanted Antonio Blakeney in that rotation, and....man, that’s a real Sophie’s Choice for Fred Hoiberg (and just as emotionally wrenching!).
So with the bench providing nothing but 3 goofy hook shots from Robin Lopez, beyond the aforementioned Arcidiacono and LaVine it was big games from Justin Holiday (5-8 from three, the home-buckets Holiday thing is so real) and Jabari Parker (at least producing points now, though the rest of his game is still awful) and that was pretty much it. Wendell Carter Jr.’s struggles continued here, he was overmatched by Aldridge forcing the Bulls to aggressively double-team, and had 5 fouls in 24 minutes forcing him out of the lineup a couple times in the second half. Carter also missed 7 of his 11 shots (including one gimmee in the 4th), had 2 turnovers, and was stuffed at the rim once as well.
The Spurs were led by Aldridge’s 20 and a fairly-quiet 21 from DeMar DeRozan, and altogether didn’t look good defensively as the Bulls were able to run and launch. But on offense they were hanging in there by exploiting the usual Bulls defensive issues, and though nearly coughing it up at the end ultimately earned a much needed victory as the West is all bundled together in the standings. Meanwhile the Bulls did, like, run around a lot and showed effort, though most good news from this team lately is the maybe-possibly-sometime-soon injury recovery reports.