The Bulls stood pat at the trade deadline. In a rare media cameo, executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson justified the decision by saying the Bulls still don’t know what they have in Year 3 of their rebuild, so they didn’t want to trade any core parts away.
Like the Bulls’ trade deadline exploits, their effort in a 125-119 loss against the Pelicans were mostly lifeless, at least until two-way player Adam Mokoka started going wild in garbage time.
He got the Bulls all the way back to within four points after they trailed by as many as 27. However, Cristiano Felicio volleyballed a Jaxson Hayes missed free throw into his own bucket, effectively ending the Bulls’ comeback quest with four seconds to play and ruining an amazing backdoor cover:
Bulls with a furious comeback. Felicio says F the comeback loool pic.twitter.com/q9R5jBjuGP— Ⓜ️arcusD ▶️ (@_MarcusD3_) February 7, 2020
The garbage-time buckets courtesy of Mokoka (the United Center crowd even chanted “MVP”) made the score more aesthetically pleasing than it should have been. He had 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting in five minutes. But if we’re keeping this truthful, this was a 20-plus-point loss effort.
The rest of the game featured a plethora of fast-break points for the Pelicans (20), dominant big-man play inside on the offensive end (62 points in the paint), and lots of Zion highlights:
The Zo-Zion connection is ridiculous pic.twitter.com/ju6TM64Obc— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 7, 2020
The Pelicans also had 38 assists on 49 made field goals. It was an opponent season high against the Bulls. Zion had 21 points on 9-for-11 from the field. Brandon Ingram and JJ Redick had 15 and 18 points, respectively, though Ingram had to leave the game early with an injury.
A balanced offensive attack (11 guys in the scoring column) helped the Pelicans build a 10-point lead at halftime. They scored 72 points, shooting 59.6 percent from the field as the Bulls didn’t provide much resistance on the defensive end. The Pelicans ran the Bulls out of the gym, piling up 17 fast-break points in the half.
During the halftime show, the Bulls had The Elevators (the guys who do trick dunks off the trampolines) do a Dominique Wilkins-Michael Jordan inspired dunk contest where they recreated their best dunks. It was amazing and by far the most interesting aspect of the game.
Like they have done all season, the Bulls dropped themselves out of the game in the third quarter, getting scorched out of the break as the deficit grew to 27 points. The Bulls were outscored 31-19 in the quarter to find themselves down 22 points after three frames. The third quarter featured Zion backing down Thaddeus Young in the paint with little resistance and Jaxson Hayes rebounding and dunking over Luke Kornet with even less resistance.
It was truly a lethargic effort for most of the 48 minutes of this game:
Stacey King just suggested Bulls players should take 5 Hour Energy— Ricky O'Donnell (@SBN_Ricky) February 7, 2020
The Bulls fared horribly this season against this Pelicans team. They lost 123-108 the first time the two teams played, getting outscored 44-27 in the third quarter, so this game had some similarities.
The Bulls are back at it on Sunday against a disjointed Philadelphia 76ers squad, though the Sixers are 22-2 at home. Enjoy your first Sunday without football.