It was another rough offensive outing from the Chicago Bulls last night in their 107-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Other than a late magical flurry which got the deficit to single digits, they mostly struggled.
A paltry 48.8 True Shooting percentage was bad enough, and to make matters worse they were also turning the ball over. A lot of these turnovers had nothing to do with the opposing defense but instead but more on Chicago being a bit careless. The majority of the turnovers came from the starting lineup with Kris Dunn having 5 and Zach LaVine and Wendell Carter Jr. with 3 apiece.
The 15 turnovers led to 25 points for the Lakers. In a game where both teams looked off when it came to shooting the basketball from distance, these unforced errors were momentum killers.
The Bulls started off the second half quite well, scoring the first two baskets. But things quickly turned with LA going on an 8-0 run soon after. During that stretch the Bulls had 4 turnovers with all of them resulting from bad passes. This helped the Lakers re-gain the lead and they never looked back.
It came from all different members of the core. Kris Dunn had a double-dribble and push-off offensive foul in his opening stint, and then started the 3rd quarter like this:
Then two possessions later there was a shot clock violation, followed by this from LaVine.
Here the play design is a simple pick and roll between Lauri Markkanen and LaVine. The Lakers switch on the pick with Kyle Kuzma now guarding LaVine and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope sticking with Markkanen. LaVine stops at the top of the three-point line and sees Markkanen rumbling towards the hoop. KCP didn’t turn his head around quickly and it allowed Markkanen to cut right by him and into the paint. The opening is there and LaVine sees it. He fires a tight bounce pass towards Markkanen and ideally the ball is in stride and results in an easy layup. But there’s one slight problem: Brandon Ingram. After Chandler Hutchison runs towards the opposite corner, Ingram decides to stay near the paint. The Lakers are totally fine letting Hutchison attempt a shot from three considering he’s only shooting 28.2% from that range. Ingram is playing like a safety in this defensive sequence, just reading and reacting to whatever happens near the rim. He spots the bounce pass, sticks out his right arm to slap the ball away, and sparks a fast break on the other end. Ingram spots Lonzo Ball open near the three-point line and it leads to three points for the Lakers.
This sequence starts with WCJ having the ball near the three-point line and you can immediately see what type of shot the Bulls want to get on this possession. LaVine runs towards the hoop and goes right past both Ball and Tyson Chandler. The two defenders in LA react but you can see they won’t catch LaVine before he gets to the rim. This allows WCJ some options. He can either wait till both Ball and Chandler drop too deep, giving him space to shoot a jumper or he can toss the ball over the top to LaVine for a layup attempt. Carter Jr. tries the second option and lobs a pass but it’s too far ahead of LaVine. The pass sails by him and Josh Hart, who was running over to help on the drive, steps in to pick off the overthrown pass. Hart then takes the ball and runs it straight at the heart of the Bulls transition defense. He goes right past three Bulls and with Wayne Selden guarding Svi Mykhailiuk on the three-point line, WCJ is the only defender left. Carter Jr. does a good job going straight up and forcing Hart to take a tough layup attempt. The ball bounces off the back rim and goes in to give LA a 15 point lead late in the 4th quarter.
This has been something Chicago has struggled with all season. The Bulls average 15.2 turnovers per game, 9th highest in the NBA. Opponents are taking advantage and are averaging 17.3 points off those turnovers against the Bulls, which is 11th highest in the league. For an offense which stagnates (often on purpose) as much as Chicago’s does, turning the ball over is absolutely killer. They usually lead to free points on the other end and are often the starting of runs which takes them out of games. It’s exactly what happened in LA and resulted in Chicago’s 8th straight loss.