The bad Bulls playing the crappy Cavaliers in March normally wouldn’t be all that interesting, but this game at least featured Coby White’s first career start. While White put forth a mixed bag of a performance and the Bulls nearly blew a late 10-point lead, they were able to hold on and pull out a 108-103 win.
White finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists while shooting 7-of-17 from the field and 2-of-7 on 3-pointers. 14 of those points came in the first half:
White finished well around the basket and had a nice drive and score with just under 1:35 to play after the Cavs had cut their deficit to three. He then executed a nice two-man game with Wendell Carter Jr. to help Carter earn free throws after another Cavs triple made it a two-point game.
The Bulls made a mess of the final minute, nearly committing an 8-second violation and then ultimately committing a turnover anyway after two Jim Boylen timeouts. Just look at Jimbo’s spirit on this timeout:
Name me one coach that calls timeouts with more swag pic.twitter.com/DMy1tk9YyB— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 11, 2020
After Andre Drummond made it a two-point game again on a tip-in, a bad possession resulted in an ugly White shot that caromed off the rim. But Shaquille Harrison played hero by flying in for yet another offensive rebound and getting fouled in the process, with the ensuing two free throws and Collin Sexton’s turnover the final daggers.
It was Harrison’s game-high 10th rebound of the game, with four of those of the offensive variety. The Bulls actually smashed the Cavs on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 46-35 and grabbing 14 total offensive boards. Cleveland missed Tristan Thompson in this one, but getting outrebounded by this Bulls team while playing Drummond, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. big minutes is a tough look.
Drummond was especially terrible in this game in terms of effort level. His final stat line of 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting and seven rebounds looks okay, but he gave up a number of offensive rebounds, got torched badly defensively on numerous occasions, air-balled a free throw, picked up a technical foul after a stretch of bad plays, committed six turnovers and generally loafed a lot. If it wasn’t an alley-oop or a putback, it was likely a bad play by Drummond. The Bulls beat him five out of five times this season.
Speaking of turnovers, there were a whole lot of them in this game from both teams. The Bulls racked up 21 turnovers leading to 32 Cavs points, and White had nine of those giveaways. While it was nice to see him pushing pace and putting pressure on the defense, his aggressiveness sometimes led to sloppiness and he had some issues making the correct reads. This is all part of the learning process for the rookie point guard.
While the Bulls and Cavs both turned it over a ton (Cleveland had 18 miscues), they both actually shot an even 50% in this game. Collin Sexton scored 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting to lead the game in scoring. White’s 20 points led the way for the home Bulls, but they also got 17 points from Carter and 15 apiece from Lauri Markkanen, Denzel Valentine and Otto Porter Jr. It was a Porter 3-pointer that put the Bulls up 10 points with just under five minutes to play, but the Cavs made it close again with four 3-pointers down the stretch after starting the game 2-of-18 from distance. Matthew Dellavedova hit a pair of triples during this run, bringing back bad memories of the 2015 playoffs.
The Bulls were able to avoid the collapse, though, moving to 22-43 on the season with this win and matching last season’s win total (#GrowthPlate). The next game is against the Magic in Orlando to start a two-game Florida swing. If the Bulls didn’t suck this game would mean something, but, alas, there’s an eight-game separation in the standings with 17 games to play.