The Bulls were right there once again versus the Bucks on Monday night at the United Center, even holding a one-point lead with 6:23 to go after a second straight Coby White triple capped off a 9-0 run. The Bulls promptly melted down from there, failing to make a basket the rest of the way and falling victim to a 17-2 run to wind up on the wrong side of a 115-101 final score.
This latest collapse ruined a coming-out party for rookie Daniel Gafford, who made his debut in the rotation in a big way with 21 points on 10-of-12 shooting with a whole bunch of dunks and other nice hustle plays. The Bulls’ bench was terrific in general, as they totaled 63 points. White and Ryan Arcidiacono both hit double figures in scoring, while Kris Dunn had eight points, nine assists and six rebounds in another nice effort off the pine.
Unfortunately, White and Arcidiacono ran out of gas down the stretch. White played roughly 16 of the last 18 minutes and Arch played the last 16-plus minutes, and unfortunately they got no help from Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen, who were simply terrible.
LaVine and Markkanen returned to the game with the Bulls down four with just over five minutes to play after long stretches on the bench, and they helped nuke any chance of winning the game. With the Bulls down five with three and a half minutes to play, Markkanen got rudely blocked by Brook Lopez on another ill-advised dunk attempt and then committed a foul on a Lopez and-1 on the other end, and that was followed by LaVine turning the ball over, missing a tough 3 and missing a wild layup attempt.
The Bucks then took a bunch of time off the clock by securing two straight offensive rebounds, with Markkanen getting called for a foul against Giannis Antetokounmpo, sending The Greek Freak to the line. After Lopez stuffed a wild White drive attempt, Giannis dunked on Lauri for the exclamation point.
LaVine had 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting and was a game-worst minus-20. Markkanen had nine points on 2-of-12 shooting and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. He was a minus-17 and just generally depressing to watch as he got routinely punked on both ends. This has been a trend all season, and I’m not sure what else to say about it.
Meanwhile, the Otto Porter Jr. injury is really looming large. Chandler Hutchison tries hard but isn’t any good, and going through these super-long stretches with guys like White and Arcidiacono on the floor to finish out games is simply untenable. Arch played a strong game tonight and always busts his ass, but he almost led the team in minutes. We also saw White fade late with some questionable decision-making.
Similar to the other night, this loss stings because the game was right there for the taking. While the Bucks made 15 3-pointers in this one compared to just six in the first matchup, they still weren’t all that sharp, with Giannis committing eight turnovers and really struggling at the free-throw line. Eric Bledsoe also shot just 2-of-11 from the field after going for 31 the other night.
But the Bulls once again failed to execute in crunch time, which has been a theme all season. With LaVine and Markkanen not getting it done and Jim Boylen’s rotations all over the place, the Bulls are a team searching for answers.
The Bulls are now 4-10 and will next welcome in the Pistons on Wednesday.