The Bulls fought. And fought. And fought some more. The stage was set for them to steal a quality win against a way-better-than-expected Miami Heat team. It would have been the Bulls first real quality win of the season and a very rare victory over an over-.500 team for Jim Boylen’s tenure.
But the Bulls opponent executed better than they did down the stretch and Chicago dropped a winnable game. It’s been a recurring storyline this season and a big reason why they only have eight wins in 24 tries.
Tyler Herro (one of the best 3-point shooters on the Miami Heat) scored 11 of his game-high 27 points in overtime, nine of those 11 points coming on wide open 3-point attempts. Lauri Markkanen had a chance to tie the game at the end of overtime, but missed a corner 3-pointer as the Bulls fell 110-105 dropping their second game in a row and falling to 8-16 on the season.
Back to the end of regulation, where the Bulls led 95-94 with 15.4 seconds remaining: for those that have watched the Bulls all season, you could sense what was about to happen next.
Former Bull Jimmy Butler got the ball, and the Heat isolated him on Shaquille Harrison. He bullied into the lane and Harrison played fantastic defense. Kris Dunn got antsy though and cheated off Tyler Herro to help out. Butler found Herro who splashed in a 3-point field goal to give his team a two-point advantage.
On the next possession, it was LaVine’s turn to try to win the game. Unlike in Friday’s loss, LaVine attacked the basket early, was fouled, and knocked down two high-pressure free throws to tie the game and force overtime after a Heat heave missed.
The Bulls strategy all fourth quarter was to double and even triple Butler to take it out of his hands and force others to beat them. Butler had 23 points at this point (end of regulation) but most of that production came from the free-throw line (17 made free throws). He was 3-for-11 from the field at this point.
All second half, and really all game, the score swayed back-and-forth in a hard-fought, defense-centric effort by both teams.
Then it was a lot of Tyler Herro shot-making. It wasn’t even a career high for Herro, he scored 29 points against the Atlanta Hawks on Oct. 29. But in this game, his 27 points were huge. Many of them came at critical moments and the Bulls inability to locate him on the floor and prevent him from taking open 3-point field goals was the reason Chicago lost.
Jim Boylen has yet to lead the Bulls to a win against a team over .500 this season. There were opportunities to steal one against the Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, and now the Miami Heat which makes it hurt even more.
Spinning close losses as signs that the rebuild is progressing is getting really annoying. It’s year three and most of the core guys—Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Wendell Carter Jr.— have played multiple years together. It’s time for them to figure things out.
Boylen didn’t do anything egregiously wrong from an X & O standpoint but bizarrely Luke Kornet was back in the rotation. In his first and only three minute stint, he was a -7 recording nothing else on the stat sheet. A healthy Bulls lead dissipated when he came into the game.
The Bulls are right back at it tonight, against another good team in the Toronto Raptors.