Entering the final quarter against the Orlando Magic, the Chicago Bulls were very much in the game. They were only down 83-81 and had a chance to grab the eighth seed from their opposition. Led by Zach LaVine and Tomas Satoransky, it seemed like Chicago would be able to at least match Orlando offensively to keep themselves in it. But it turned out to not be the case, scoring a mere 14 points in the final 12 minutes.
While Orlando didn’t do much either (20 points), they made more plays than the Bulls did. In the end, it was a 103-95 win for the Magic as Chicago slipped to 12-20.
Only the aforementioned two guys scored over 20 points for the Bulls, and the overall numbers for the night looked ugly. The Bulls shot 39.2 percent from the field (35 of 88) and had a true shooting percentage of 50.2 percent. Easy baskets weren’t found as the Bulls scored just six fast break points. They couldn’t keep control of the ball either, turning the ball over 17 times. While Orlando could have punished Chicago a lot more, scoring just 17 points off those TOs, you can’t get into an offensive rhythm or flow if you can’t take care of the basketball.
With the length Orlando had on the court, the Bulls faced a sea of arms whenever they went into the paint. The Magic had a total of 13 blocks with four of them coming from Mo Bamba. A whopping seven of them came in the fourth.
Above, Chicago ran a pretty good play to get a wide-open look for Thaddeus Young. He came crashing down from the left corner and the Bulls had LaVine set a screen for him there. While at the same time, the Bulls had a guard and guard pick and roll with Kris Dunn and Satoransky at the top of the three-point line. So by the time Sato got to the other wing, Young was waiting right there for the ball. But as soon as he caught it, Orlando’s bigs came in. Young did a smart job by improvising and going for the reverse but Aaron Gordon still caught it. Then Bamba came in to help out and got a block of his own. In a matter of seconds, Chicago went from having a wide-open layup to nothing.
It was evident after a while the Bulls became hesitant to drive into the paint because most of their shots were getting swatted back. Guys were getting near the hoop and hesitated to do anything. The only option would be to kick it out but with Orlando’s perimeter defenders staying home, there were a lot of errant passes on Chicago’s end. Having trouble scoring near the basket isn’t something new for the Bulls. With the Magic having the ability to contest these shots effectively, Chicago was completely shut down in that area of the court.
However, the Bulls weren’t able to find success in the mid-range nor from three-point land either. Below is the shot chart for the Bulls in the fourth quarter.
This leaves us with a total of six for 25 with a shooting percentage of 24.
In all, the game was there for the taking and they went cold at the worst time. it was even more frustrating considering Orlando gave them numerous chances to get back into the game. The Magic cut off the paint from them and they had no other response for it.