Despite a sluggish showing in the first half, the Chicago Bulls found themselves within double digits of the Charlotte Hornets with less than five minutes left in the game. They had a nice third quarter run and there was still a chance to win the game. However, their offense once again went stagnant and their defense couldn’t get a stop. Even with their best player not even scoring a single point tonight, the Hornets got huge nights from two of their young guys. Charlotte just kept making clutch baskets in the fourth quarter and Chicago couldn’t keep up. In the end, the Bulls were beaten 103-93 for their seventh straight loss.
Malik Monk and Miles Bridges led the way for Charlotte all night. The duo combined for 47 points while the rookie P.J. Washington scored 17. As for the Bulls they got a solid night from Thaddeus Young who scored 22 points on 10 of 18 shooting. Zach LaVine added 22 but went 8 of 22 from the field. Shaq Harrison gave some solid play off the bench with 13 points.
To start the game Chicago couldn’t have looked any more out of sync. In their first game back since the All-Star break, the Bulls offense struggled. They only scored 44 points in the first half with Thaddeus Young leading the way with 10 points and Shaq Harrison scoring 9. Chicago got into a deficit quickly, giving up the first five points of the game and then going down as much as 13 in the first quarter. Charlotte had 29 free throw attempts in the game as the Bulls were pitted into foul trouble early. The Hornets cashed in on the free points, making 20 of those attempts and had the free throw advantage early on. In the final four minutes of the first, Charlotte went on a 13-5 run to lead 33-20.
The second quarter saw more of the same as the deficit kept climbing for the Bulls. Jim Boylen ran out a Arch-White-Harrison-Young-Felicio to start the quarter and that lineup struggled to get any offensive momentum going. LaVine was re-inserted back into the fray with about eight minutes to go in the half and the Bulls battled back. They were able to cut the lead to single digits with four minutes left thanks to a bucket by Kornet. But then things went south again as Charlotte wheeled off an 11-2 in two minutes. Suddenly the lead was 18 and Boylen had to call timeout in an effort to halt momentum. As the two teams headed into the locker room at halftime, the Hornets were up 60-44.
Both teams were poor from three for the entirety of the game but the Bulls had a first half to forget when it came to three-point shots. Chicago was 0 of 15 from deep in that first half and looked completely out of sorts on offense. They had only scored 44 points in the first half with Young’s 10 leading the way.
The third quarter went much better for the Bulls. Charlotte’s red hot offense (54% shooting in the first half) suddenly went cold. Now the Hornets were the ones who couldn’t seem to get a shot to go down. They scored only 19 points in the third quarter and even went through a four minute scoring drought in the process of it. The Bulls took advantage of the opportunity and brought the deficit back to single digits. Behind the play of both Young and LaVine, Chicago got it down to a three-point game with 1:12 left in the quarter. However the Hornets still had the lead 79-73 heading into the final frame.
Both teams started to trade baskets as the Hornets seemed to recover from their bad third quarter. Every time it looked like Charlotte was going to pull away the Bulls came right back with a key bucket. Chicago was always a bucket or two away from making the Hornets really sweat as we headed down the final half quarter of the game. But then the Chicago offense started to go cold. They went through a stretch where the only scored five points in seven minutes of basketball. The Bulls had multiple chances to take control of this game but couldn’t get any offensive momentum going to do so. Chicago made a late push but Bridges knocked down a three from the corner as Charlotte went up nine with less than a minute left. The shot felt like the dagger and it was as the Bulls dropped to 11th in the East.