The Bulls didn’t improve too much from their first-night drubbing, taking another high-margin loss in a 125-106 total against the Pacers.
There were two huge runs for the Pacers, a 21-0 demolition in the 2nd quarter, and then the came out in the second half to 18 straight points as the Bulls couldn’t score for nearly five minutes. Shortly after that it was a 30-point deficit again and thus a quarter and a half of garbage time.
Unlike that first game where they went down 40, at least the Bulls started pretty well here. Lauri Markkanen opened up the 2nd straight game with a three-pointer, and Coby White hit 3 of them afterwards, to be more-or-less even in the first quarter of play.
But it looked like fools’ gold given how easily the Pacers were scoring inside. White, Zach LaVine, and Patrick Williams were all beaten pretty easily to the basket - TJ Warren feasted - and helped by tons of Domantas Sabonis screens. Meanwhile, the Bulls bigs were also horrific defensively as Wendell Carter Jr. continues his trainwreck 2020 campaign from the preseason into these first two games. He’s not being helped by his guards, sure enough, but he just looks completely indecisive and undisciplined when helping, especially a problem when that’s his supposed strength as an NBA starting center as he shot 2-10 from the field.
The Pacers in that first quarter were 1-7 from three and were 0-2 from the line, but were living in the paint and there was a fear that it was only a matter of time before the rest of the game caught up with their inside scoring.
And then it did in those two major runs. The Bulls bench - buoyed by returning veterans inactive in the first game like Tomas Satoransky, Garrett Temple, and Denzel Valentine (even Otto Portly looked like a lumbering force!) - had only a brief spurt of positive play and then some were part of that horrible run given up to Indiana, made worse by the returning starters. The Bulls had 9 turnovers in the second quarter alone - two from stealing a Patrick Williams inbound pass - as they just do not have a very smooth offense at all with guards not being natural passers and the frontcourt not being natural finishers.
A brief Zach LaVine spurt had the Bulls only down ten into halftime, but then the Pacers blew the doors off to start the 3rd. Sabonis had 6 assists in that 3rd period alone to eventually finish with a triple-double. Victor Oladipo, Malcom Brogdon, and Myles Turner combined to go 11/14 from the field for 26 points, with a 4-point play from Oladipo sending his team to that 30 point lead.
I fast-forwarded much of the 4th, I saw that the deep bench - notably Chandler Hutchison and Ryan Arcidiacono did not play in the regular rotation tonight - got the deficit down to 11 with 4 minutes to go but then another quick run after a timeout had Indiana put the Bulls well out of reach again.
For the game totals, both LaVine and White were mostly quiet outside of some stretches and finished with only 17 and 12 points respectively, not nearly enough considering their defense. Markkanen had 16 and 9, and all three mentioned were under 30 minutes as Billy Donovan looks to avoid the dreaded double-loss as they welcome in the Warriors tomorrow night. The defense stunk again but the offense wasn’t that much better, as they shot 41% from three but still finished with a 100 offensive rating and that’s even folding in the 35-point fourth quarter after the game was already over.