After Sunday’s win against the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls entered tonight’s contest against the Los Angeles Clippers with some momentum. But it was all for naught as the Clippers walked into the United Center and beat the Bulls 112-106. Thanks to a monster double double of 29 points and 18 rebounds from star man DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers notched another win in their race for a playoff while the Bulls notched a loss in their race for a top draft spot.
The first quarter turned out to be a battle of the two opposing centers. Both Jordan and Robin Lopez had monster first quarters to lead their teams in the opening frame. Lopez led Chicago in scoring at the end of 1, dropping 12 points along with 3 rebounds. David Nwaba was also a factor, scoring 7 points and even started the game off with hitting a three-pointer (!). Meanwhile on the Clippers end, it was the Jordan and Tobias Harris show, with the duo dropping 10 points each. Jordan had a very easy start to the game as the first three of his field goal attempts ended up as dunks. This all happened within the first 5 minutes of the game and prompted Fred Hoiberg to burn an early timeout cause of it. He was also a force on the glass as well.
While Jordan was the go-to source of offense for the Clippers in the first part of the quarter, Harris was the closer. He scored five points in the final minute and blocked Bobby Portis’s layup with 12.8 seconds left. Thanks to the quick burst of scoring, LA led Chicago 31-27 after one quarter.
The first quarter also saw some very nice play from Cameron Payne. He was active offensively, was aggressive, and didn’t try to really force anything. Payne looked a whole lot better as of late and it led him to have a good first half against LA. He scored 10 points in the first half all together. It was a nice surprise off the bench for Chicago.
Payne got Chicago off to a good start in the second quarter, scoring 5 early points and assisting on a three-pointer to Portis. Speaking of Portis, he was the one who gave Chicago a spark in the second, scoring 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting along with grabbing 6 rebounds. He went on a mini 8-0 run on his own and single handedly helped Chicago take back the lead halfway through the quarter. Even he started trash talking to the Clippers bench at one point.
Thanks to the efforts of Portis to begin the second, Chicago was able to keep the game competitive until Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn were brought back in to finish the half. Then the Bulls expanded their lead to as much as 8, which happened when Dunn hit a jumper with 3:12 left. But the Clippers kept battling and eventually narrowed the lead to 2 with less than 30 seconds left. What happened next was a sequence which saw LaVine get fouled on a drive and have it not called. Then on the other end after Lou Williams gets fouled and will shoot two free throws, LaVine and Hoiberg pick up technicals for arguing. So the last moments of the first half were 4 free throw attempts from Williams, which helps the Clippers take a 62-60 lead into halftime.
There were three players on each team who were in double digits in terms of points. Jordan, Harris, and Williams had 14, 15, and 12. This was expected as those three are the Clippers top options offensively. It was an especially huge half for Jordan as he earned himself a double double with 10 rebounds as well.
As for Chicago, they had Payne, Portis, and Lopez score 10, 10, and 12. As for Chicago’s main scorers, Lauri Markkanen was out with back spasms and LaVine struggled mightily in the first half, scoring only 2 points on 1 of 5 shooting.
As expected, Hoiberg made a lineup change to begin the second half. He put in Felicio for Lopez and confirmed the big man’s night was all but done (which was something we all expected). But even without one of their best players on the court, the Bulls kept battling back and forth with the Clippers. For the third quarter, it felt like every time the Clippers were about to pull away, the Bulls would make a basket when needed to keep this game within one or two possessions. However, things began to slip away from Chicago with three minutes left in the 3rd quarter when Williams scored on a breakaway layup to put the Clippers up 82-74. It didn’t get any better from the Bulls from then on out. The Clippers used the final minutes of the third to further their lead and at the end of the quarter, it was a 12-point lead (90-78) for the away team.
The fourth quarter began as expected with the Clippers continuing to pepper the Bulls offensively and forcing them to foul. Los Angeles went to the line a ton in this game, shooting 41 attempts from the charity stripe, a season high.
They got to lead to 14 with 8 minutes left in the game but some quick points from Portis and Nwaba cut the lead down to single digits, prompting a timeout from Doc Rivers. With only 7 minutes left in the game, time was against the Bulls yet they seemed determined to make this competitive. A cheeky and-one play from LaVine from an inbounds play made it 107-99 with less than 4 minutes to play and gave some hope to Chicago. However, just like the beginning of the game, Chicago had no answer for Jordan. LA came right back with a sequence which ended up in another dunk for the Clippers best player. The slam restored a double digit lead for the away team. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as the Bulls couldn’t get the buckets when needed. Jordan continued to dominate in the paint and on the glass, stocking up free throw attempts in the process. With a minute to go, LaVine knocked down a three which was followed by two FT’s by Dunn which cut the lead to 6. However after a Clippers missed three-pointer, the Bulls weren’t able to knock down another shot to make it more interesting. It was a wacky sequence to end the game which involved even Cristiano Felicio shooting a three-pointer. LA finally grabbed the rebound, advanced, to the front court, and ran out the clock.
It was another loss for the Bulls who next travel to Memphis to play another tanking team in the Grizzlies.