Heading into the final minute against the Sacramento Kings, the Chicago Bulls had a chance to win their fourth straight game in a row. They had been battling back and forth with their west coast opponents and had an opportunity to grab another win on this road trip. Thanks to two free throws from Zach LaVine, who was outstanding overall with 32 points, Chicago had trimmed the Kings lead to just one with 1:34 left.
But when the opportunity came their way, they couldn’t convert. It was a bitter loss for Chicago as Sacramento won 128-124.
Let’s take a look at how the final minute went against the Bulls.
Above, Chicago had a chance to take the lead after a miss by Richaun Holmes.
With the ball in LaVine’s hands as he dribbled past the halfway line and about 20 seconds on the shot clock, he took a screen from Wendell Carter Jr. and fired up a three that he missed.
While LaVine had a good game offensively, this shot probably wasn’t the best one to take in this situation. When he rose to shoot, there were still 18 seconds left on the shot clock, which was more than enough time for the Bulls to run a play to get a better look. LaVine did have space to take the jumper but, it was more about the time and situation than anything. With Chicago only down by one here, taking a three wasn’t a must. They should have slowed it down, ran a play, and find an open shot from there. I
Instead, now they had to get another stop to have a chance to win the game.
The sequence above begins with Buddy Hield having the ball at the top of the three-point line. Richaun Holmes comes over to set a screen on Garrett Temple, who is guarding Hield. Carter Jr. is again playing drop coverage, so he’s focused on not giving up an easy lane for the roll man or shot at the rim. WCJ steps up a little bit but not enough to make Hield think about moving off the three-point line. Temple goes over the screen, which makes him behind his man when he gets past Holmes. Hield sees the space between Temple and Carter Jr. to shoot, rises, and makes a three-pointer. He then gets contact from Temple afterward to make matters worse and turn it into a four-point play.
The Bulls quickly got the deficit back to three thanks to a bucket by Coby White. But they still needed a defensive stop.
Haliburton had a fantastic fourth, scoring 15 in the quarter alone with these three were the biggest. Again it’s a Hield-Holmes pick and roll with Temple and Carter Jr. being the defenders. This time Carter Jr. steps up a bit more because the screen occurred much higher up the court than the previous play along with the fact that Hield had splashed a three in that sequence as well. This time he’s able to deter Hield from shooting from downtown and forces a drive.
Carter Jr. is perfectly placed in front of the ball handler and cuts off the drive. LaVine crashes down from the wing to help on the drive and it leaves Haliburton open on the left-wing. Hield sees this and kicks it out to the rookie. LaVine does a great job recovering and even forces Haliburton to move more to the corner to get enough room. By that time, White is there too so while LaVine couldn’t make a good contest, his backcourt mate stepped in to put a hand up. The contest does the job, and it forces Haliburton to fade away as he releases the ball, making it a tough shot. But the Bulls could only hopelessly watch as it rattled into the basket for the game-sealing basket.
It was a rough final minute for Chicago, one similar to their collapse against Golden State. Unlike the game in Portland, they were not able to take their chances offensively. Then on defense, they were on the receiving end of some great shot-making.