The Pacers were without Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis against a healthy Bulls team on Sunday evening in Indianapolis, leaving the home team with a starting frontcourt consisting of Goga Bitadze and JaKarr Sampson. Instead of taking advantage of these fortuitous circumstances, the Bulls laid yet another dud in a pathetic and putrid 108-95 loss.
It was a stinker from the start, with the Bulls managing just 18 points on 8-of-24 shooting (1-of-9 from 3) in the first quarter. The offense picked up a bit in the second quarter thanks to Wendell Carter Jr. and some terrific work around the basket in the pick-and-roll game, but the Bulls fell behind by 13 at the break because they couldn’t get any defensive stops.
When Chicago’s offense finally started to make some real moves in the third quarter due to some nice work in transition, they still couldn’t put much of a dent in the deficit because the defense simply couldn’t buckle down. Malcolm Brogdon waltzed to the lane on multiple occasions, T.J. Warren got cooking and even noted bum TJ Leaf went to work, going for nine points and six rebounds in the quarter alone. The Bulls’ pick-and-roll defense was still a mess, and the Pacers shot 56.0% from the field to take an 84-72 lead into the final frame.
The Pacers had a horrible bench unit out on the court to start the fourth quarter, but the Bulls were atrocious in their own right and never could make a run. The closest the Bulls got in the fourth quarter was eight points despite the Pacers fouling like crazy, missing wide-open looks from 3 and turning the ball over. The Bulls missed a ton of free throws (8-of-14 in the fourth, 14-of-25 for the game) and shot just 5-of-18 in the quarter. Tomas Satoransky finished the game with an ugly string of turnovers to put a final turd on top of this shit sundae.
The Bulls shot 41.9% overall and 9-of-30 from 3 while turning the ball over 18 times. They got outrebounded (49-43) yet again despite the Pacers missing their starting frontcourt. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen were blah. Otto Porter Jr. and Coby White combined to shoot 1-of-16. The three-guard lineup got extended run in both halves again despite Chandler Hutchison’s supposed availability, with Ryan Arcidiacono somehow fouling out in 17 minutes. Luke Kornet keeps getting asked to blitz pick-and-rolls when he obviously can’t do it. The rotations in general are a disaster. Needless to say, Jim Boylen has a lot to figure out and he has to try some different things.
If there’s one positive from this crapfest of a game, it’s that Carter went for 20 and 10 while making nine of his 10 field goal attempts. He did go just 2-of-6 from the foul line, but Carter in general has been a legitimate bright spot during this disappointing start to the season. His hustle and strong finishing around the bucket have been welcome, and the Bulls should look at using him more and more in these pick-and-roll situations as he excels as a roll man.
But, overall, there’s just not much to like about this Bulls team right now. They continue to rack up these bad losses before the schedule picks up a bit, starting with a home tilt against the mighty Lakers on Tuesday. If the Bulls don’t play better, they’ll get run out of the gym.