The Bulls and Warriors both got spanked in their first two games of the season, so something had to give at the United Center on Sunday night. We were treated to a rather hilarious and fun bad affair between two bad teams, but the end result was a heartbreaking 129-128 Bulls loss in a game they really had no business losing.
It looked like the Bulls may pull out their first victory when Zach LaVine hit a tough shot with five seconds to go, but he left too much time and Damion Lee delivered the dagger for the Dubs:
The Bulls had no timeouts left (Boylen’d), so all they could manage was a Tomas Satoransky prayer that harmlessly clanked off the backboard. Chicago is now 0-3 on the young season.
The Bulls just lost a game to a struggling Warriors team playing without Draymond Green despite shooting 51.2% from the field and going 17-of-41 on 3-pointers. LaVine had 33 points to lead four players with at least 20 points. Wendell Carter Jr. looked like an actual NBA player with 22/13/4 on 8-of-9 shooting. Lauri Markkanen shot the ball well again and had 23 points on 7-of-13 shooting (4-of-7 from 3), though he left the game late in the fourth quarter with a calf contusion.
A whopping 24 turnovers (five Bulls had at least three, and LaVine had seven), which helped the Warriors finish with 18 more shot attempts. And while the Dubs barely managed to shoot 40% from the field, they poured in 18 3-pointers on 47 attempts. That was with Stephen Curry missing a number of great looks from deep, but he recovered from a slow start to finish with a game-high 36 points on 11-of-25 from the field and 5-of-15 from 3-land. 25 of those 36 points came in the second half, with 13 coming in the fourth as the Dubs came back from nine points down in the last 3:58 to win.
The Bulls wouldn’t have been in position for Steph and Lee (Steph’s brother-in-law) to play hero late if they would have just taken care of the Ball. Whenever it looked like the Bulls were going to pull away, they forgot how to play basketball. For just one example, after going up 10 points in the third quarter, the lead immediately went back down to two points thanks to a sequence of four straight turnovers. The Warriors amped up the defense with a press, but there’s still no excuse to be turning the ball as much as the Bulls are doing on a nightly basis.
While there’s some intriguing talent on the roster, as evidenced by the big box score numbers, the basketball IQ is abysmal, the passing is atrocious and the defense is abhorrent. There are things to like about some of these individual performances, namely Carter finally playing confidently with force and Lauri actually hitting shots and looking to take advantage of mismatches, but the collective is a mess at the moment. I still don’t think this team is quite as bad as they’ve shown, but maybe I’m just fooling myself. After all, this team just lost three games at home to start the season in brutal fashion, and the month ahead is very difficult.
The Bulls have two games against the Wizards to finish up 2020. The Wizards are also 0-3, mostly thanks to similarly pathetic defense and fourth-quarter meltdowns. Once again, something will have to give when the Bulls take the court on Tuesday.