The Bulls looked to be going into a stretch, without several rotation players, where they were about to get smoked by any halfway decent team. It took a record-breaking shooting performance to avert that fate last time out, but Friday night against the Clippers they were more in form in a 125-106 drubbing.
It was a competitive first half despite a truly ugly start, where Daniel Gafford’s opening stint of three and a half minutes produced 1 missed shot, 2 fouls, and 4 turnovers. His replacement Thaddeus Young had 2 more turnovers in that opening quarter. But the team only had 7 in the following 3 quarters, and some great first-half shooting (9-19 from three) had them relatively competitive in this one at halftime.
But the 2nd half was way too easy for the Clippers, as Los Angeles shot 61% from the field and outscored the Bulls 67-52 over those last two periods.
Kawhi Leonard was brilliant throughout, overcoming an early nut-punch from Patrick Williams to completely school the rookie, who was game in answering the challenge, but was totally overmatched by Kawhi’s arsenal. Kawhi wound up with a game-high 33 despite going 1-6 from three-point range, just showing off beautiful mid-range pull-ups and post moves with effective drives and cuts off the ball.
That 2nd half saw help off the Clippers bench, as Lou Williams and Marcus Morris combined for 26, with Morris hitting 5 threes.
The Bulls were near a double-digit deficit for much of the 3rd quarter and then it blew out to garbage time at the end. Overall they held their own in the turnovers (after that dreadful start), with FTs being pretty even and the Bulls actually winning the rebound battle. But the shotmaking, especially in the second half, was just too far weighted on the side of the Clippers.
It shows how far Zach LaVine has progressed that this a 26 point, 6 assist, 9 rebound effort is considered relatively quiet. Coby White had a great start with two pull-up threes and even a rare dunk to finish with 17. Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young both did their things with quality production off the bench, Garrett Temple looks to have snapped out of his shooting slump, but it just wasn’t enough to keep pace.
The Bulls still haven’t had a win against an above average team this year. Their next chance against a more average but still pretty good squad comes on Monday against the Pacers.