The Pelicans entered Wednesday’s game against the Bulls losers of six straight, and for a good chunk of the second half it looked like they were going to easily snap that streak and cruise to victory. The Bulls never quit, though, and they trimmed a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit down to six on multiple occasions down the stretch before falling short in a 107-98 loss. For all you bettors out there, a Ryan Arcidiacono 3-pointer with seconds left covered the 10.5-point spread.
While I must credit the Bulls for fighting back (they trailed by as many as 18 in the second half), I also have to do my best Neil Funk impression and ravage the Pelicans for what was a horrible performance in the fourth quarter. They were throwing the ball all over the place and tossing up a ton of bricks, with Nikola Mirotic an egregious offender.
Mirotic did well on the glass (15 boards) and had a pretty epic stuff of Chandler Hutchison, but he had some mind-numbing turnovers and shot just 4-of-14 overall and 1-of-8 from 3. His lone made triple was on the Pelicans’ first possession of the game.
The Pelicans shot just 8-of-24 in the fourth quarter while missing all five of their 3-pointers, but the Bulls weren’t exactly any good either. They too were mucking it up at the start of the frame before starting their comeback, and then they couldn’t make the Pelicans really sweat by trimming the deficit any further than six points. Antonio Blakeney, Zach LaVine, Jabari Parker and Justin Holiday all had opportunities to do so but couldn’t convert.
A tough Jrue Holiday banker over Wendell Carter Jr. and a Julius Randle bucket in transition to make it a 10-point game with just under two minutes to play effectively sealed the deal.
While the Bulls lost, this was another outstanding performance from Carter. Matched up against a superstar in Anthony Davis, the rookie held his own at the start of the game and even blocked a Davis shot attempt on a drive. Not much came easy for The Brow, with Carter there to challenge just about everything.
There was a noticeable downturn when Cristiano Felicio came on the floor, and he was ineffective yet again as Davis went to work (RoLo got the second-half backup minutes again). AD got cooking and wound up with 22 first-half points to lead the Pellies to an eight-point halftime lead. He finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and four blocks.
But Carter had an impressive stat line of his own with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks while shooting 7-of-11 from the field. He also had an especially impressive and-1 play where he drove baseline on Davis from beyond the arc in the right corner and finished through contact. This was his third consecutive double-double.
LaVine reached the 20-point mark yet again to keep his streak alive at 12 games, but he scored an inefficient 22 points on 9-of-26 shooting. LaVine got legitimately blocked at the rim a few times, but he also didn’t get the benefit of the doubt on a few occasions when it looked like there was contact. LaVine only attempted two free throws on the night, though some credit must go to Jrue Holiday for making his life difficult. The Pelicans’ Holiday didn’t shoot all that well, bu he played a nice floor game with 17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks. New Orleans had 32 assists to just 18 for Chicago.
Jabari Parker also recorded a double-double with 20 points, 13 rebounds and three assists, but even in a pretty quality game he couldn’t avoid some lowlights. Parker was noticeably called out by Fred Hoiberg for lollygagging back in transition, and he also yelled at Carter for not being able to corral one of the worst alley-oop attempts you’ll ever see:
Was curious what should the obvious take on the bullet alley oop pass Jabari gave to Carter from the Hornets feed.— Ⓜ️arcusD ᴿᴵᴾ ᴹᵃʳᶜᵘˢᴰ² (@_MarcusD3_) November 8, 2018
Carter's reaction after the Jabari head slap is pretty good. They didn't show that on the Bulls feed. pic.twitter.com/HkrD3O3UcU
Come on, guy. Carter clearly thought the same.
Overall, this was a pretty ugly game given the Bulls shot sub-40 percent and made just nine of their 31 3-point attempts. It never really should’ve been that close, but the Pelicans were also sloppy and have their own issues in general. Their wing rotation is barren and they’re missing Elfrid Payton, though they got a combined 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting from Wesley Johnson and Darius Miller, which was a nice bonus for them.
The Bulls are now 3-9 and get a couple of days off before a home game Saturday against the absolutely disastrous Cavs.