Same story, new night.
The Chicago Bulls were in position to steal a win against a quality opponent. With 8.1 seconds to go in the game, the Bulls found themselves with the ball down 93-92. This is what happened next.
This is the reason zach lavine getting upset for being benched at the end of games is laughable.. two WIDE open players and he throws that up https://t.co/FLRb3aDmSW— Roger Martin (@roger_martin14) December 10, 2019
Zach LaVine, who had 20 points on 6-for-18 from the field, drives into the teeth of the defense. Four guys converge on LaVine who flings up a wild layup that harmlessly caroms off the basket putting the puncuation on the Chicago Bulls 17th loss of the season.
As Stephen Noh points out in this tweet, Daniel Gafford was wide open under the basket for what would have been an uncontested dunk if LaVine was able to get him the ball. Two of the three guys chilling out on the perimeter were wide open as well as their defenders collapsed into the paint to help on LaVine. I wrote last week that LaVine gets tunnel vision when he drives into the lane especially in clutch time and this was a shining example of that tendency.
Postgame, Jim Boylen was less harsh about LaVine’s decision making on the play than most everybody else. LaVine did attack the basket to his credit.
Jim Boylen said he didn't have a problem with Zach LaVine's decision on the final empty possession. He liked that LaVine tried to draw a foul and attacked.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) December 10, 2019
It was all part of another fourth quarter collapse by the Bulls as they were up by eight points with eight minutes to go against a very good Toronto Raptors team.
The Raptors didn’t play particularly well, hence why the Bulls were in the game in the first place. Toronto shot 37.8 percent from the field and 24.1 percent from 3-point land (season low). Pascal Siakam was 7-for-18 from the field and only one of five Raptors starters shot the ball above .500 tonight (Marc Gasol was 4-for-7). The Bulls also generated 15 Raptors turnovers.
For the Bulls, it was the Daniel Gafford and Denzel Valentine show off the bench. Gafford had 14 points on a hyper-efficient 7-for-9 from the field, while Valentine continued his solid scoring off the bench with 13 more points tonight. A Valentine and Gafford alley-oop connection was probably the play of the game for the Bulls.
After the game, Boylen divulged reporters with his customary ‘I like how we are progressing’ manifestos. It’s year three of the rebuild and the Bulls are no better at closing games now than they were in year one despite several members of their core having multiple years to gel together. So the ‘we’re making progress’ spiel gets old quickly when the Bulls are making the same mistakes now as they did a couple years ago.
Here’s the realtiy. The Bulls are 8-17, haven’t beaten a team above .500 this season, and are more likely to finish with an early-ish lottery pick than the playoff spot we were promised before the season began. There are contrasting opinions on who is to blame for all of this and what the Bulls should do about it. But most can agree that this team isn’t improved at all and certainly they aren’t a good team in a season where the expectation was that they would be at the very least improved.
The Bulls suit up next on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks.