Another game against a likely NBA bottom-feeder, and another game where it’s the Bulls who look like they’re going to wind up toward the bottom of the league. This time it was in Cleveland, where the Bulls gave up 67 second-half points to the Cavaliers to lose 117-111 to fall to 1-4.
Collin Sexton put the exclamation point on another pitiful Bulls defeat:
Nice defense, Zach LaVine.
The Cavs shot a ridiculous 64.9% in the second half, including 77.8% in a 37-point fourth quarter. Sexton especially came alive after a mostly quiet first three quarters, scoring 10 points in the final frame to finish with 18 for the game. The Bulls once again had no answers when it mattered, despite the Cavs looking moribund throughout much of the first half.
Of course, while the Cavs struggled early, the Bulls weren’t able to create much separation. The Bulls led throughout much of the first half and went up by as many as 10, but the Cavs just kept hanging around and hanging around. The second half was then back and forth, but the Cavs surged ahead thanks to their offense in that fourth quarter. The Bulls trimmed an eight-point deficit down to two on several occasions, only to fail to get the key stops when they needed them.
The Bulls were battered down low yet again, with Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love both notching double-doubles. Thompson has been a surprising scorer to start the season, and he led the Cavs with 23 points and 10 boards. His energy was palpable on both ends, as he tallied five offensive rebounds and five blocks. Love had 17 points, 20 boards and six assists, plus a clutch bank shot late.
After losing the rebounding battle 63-38 against the Knicks, the Bulls lost it 47-32 on Wednesday night. It’s a problem:
The Bulls are -57 rebounding through 5 games, the second-worst rebounding margin through 5 games in the last 7 NBA seasons (Wizards -71 in 2018-19).— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) October 31, 2019
Another problem is the Bulls just not getting enough from their top players. LaVine had a quiet 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting (4-of-8 from 3), two assists and zero rebounds. He took zero free throws and had more defensive gaffes, as we saw on that Sexton dunk.
Lauri Markkanen matched LaVine’s 16 points, but he shot just 4-of-12 overall and was benched in favor of Thaddeus Young in crunch time. Not great!
Wendell Carter Jr. had another solid night with 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks after picking up two quick fouls, but he was obviously outplayed by the Cavs’ frontcourt members. Otto Porter Jr. finally reached double figures with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but he only played 27 minutes and is clearly being limited. With their lack of wing depth, the Bulls need Porter playing effectively for 35ish minutes a night.
Instead, Porter’s not even hitting 30 and those three-guard lineups continue to get extended run. Coby White really struggled in this one with eight points on 3-of-12 shooting and a team-worst minus-11. Kris Dunn matched that minus-11, and while he had a few nice hustle moments, his double whammy of getting packed by Kevin Porter Jr. on one end to giving up a Porter blow-by on the other ended his night on a really ugly note:
Right now, the Bulls flat-out stink. I thought they were going to start the season 4-1, and here they sit at 1-4 against this soft schedule. At least Jim Boylen won a challenge though, right:
We got an answer to this thanks to @DarnellMayberry. Boylen told reporters that Bulls chose to let Dunn jump because he thought he could win tip.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) October 31, 2019
Dunn is 6-foot-3. 7-foot Lauri Markkanen was on the floor.
Derrick Rose returns to Chicago with the Pistons on Friday.