Monday was a brutal day for your Chicago Bulls. Lauri Markkanen is out two to four weeks with his shoulder injury. Nobody knows when Otto Porter Jr. will be back from his back injury. Chandler Hutchison isn’t playing due to “personal reasons,” and it’s unclear when he’ll be available again. To cap it all off, the Bulls suffered arguably their worst loss of the season in a 105-101 defeat to the lowly Wizards, who were playing without Russell Westbrook for rest purposes after getting crushed by the Hornets on Sunday.
As bad as the Bulls were, they were still playing the Wizards, who also suck, and had a chance to tie or win in the final seconds. Unfortunately, Zach LaVine biffed a game-tying layup attempt to cap off a brutal fourth quarter, which ruined a 35-point night. LaVine was looking for a foul call on Alex Len, but I thought this was a good no-call:
LaVine shot just 2-of-11 in the fourth quarter after scoring 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting through three quarters. There was poor shot selection involved and some uncharacteristically terrible misses that weren’t even close. It’s hard to get too down on LaVine given he helped prop up the offense for most of the game, but it was a rough final frame.
Rough is a kind way to describe this Bulls performance. After taking a three-point lead after one quarter thanks to some dumpster fire Wizards offense without Bradley Beal (he also scored 35 points but had some crucial mistakes himself late) on the court to close the frame, the Bulls stunk up the joint to start the second without Beal. That three-point lead turned into an eight point deficit by the time Beal returned to the floor, and the Bulls were playing catchup the rest of the night.
The Wizards held a 58-48 lead at halftime, and it looked like things were about to go fully off the rails early in the third quarter. Coby White was yanked two minutes in after getting bullied by Raul Neto (Raul Neto!) as part of another rough showing (3-of-10 shooting, 0-of-4 from 3), while Daniel Gafford picked up a technical and was extremely mad with himself due to foul trouble. It looked like he took his anger out on a chair and could be seen stewing on the bench.
The Bulls’ offense then started to pick up a bit, though, thanks to LaVine and some much-needed 3-point shooting after a 2-of-14 showing from beyond the arc in the first half. LaVine and Denzel Valentine knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the third as the Bulls shot 6-of-9 from deep in the frame. They quickly nearly erased a 12-point deficit, but after the margin was trimmed to one, the Wizards scored six points on a single possession thanks to a Valentine flagrant foul on a Beal 3-point attempt and then a Rui Hachimura triple after Beal knocked down all three freebies.
The Wizards pushed their lead back out to 10 with 3:28 left in the third quarter, but they promptly went into meltdown mode to help the Bulls stay alive. The Wizards didn’t score their next point until the 9:59 mark of the fourth quarter, but the Bulls only scored seven points themselves during this span. There was some truly awful basketball going on with LaVine and Beal on the bench, highlighted by whatever this was from Cristiano Felicio:
We also got some worthless Ryan Arcidiacono minutes, and his attempts to guard Beal after the Wizards star returned for crunch time were a failure.
Robin Lopez did his best to keep the Bulls in it with some bad offensive fouls, including a push of Daniel Gafford in the back as Beal put him on a poster. I thought that was going to be the turning point of the game, especially after a Valentine trey made it 93-91 midway through the final frame, but the Wizards answered with a 6-0 run to make it 99-91 with 4:37 to play.
Washington tried one last time to fumble the bag, only for Chicago to fumble it away instead. The Bulls wound up shooting 42.4% from the field and 9-of-30 on 3-pointers while committing 16 turnovers against one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Thaddeus Young was the second-leading scorer with 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals, but he committed four of those 16 turnovers. Valentine had 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Gafford and Patrick Williams were the only other players in double figures with 10 points apiece, and Garrett Temple’s shooting slump continued as he shot 1-of-8 from the field and 0-of-5 from 3 (some WIDE-OPEN misses). Temple is now 2-of-23 on 3-pointers in February. Regression to the mean is a bitch.
The Bulls had performed relatively well without Markkanen prior to this game, but they missed his offense and Wendell Carter Jr.’s presence in general in this one, especially with Gafford in foul trouble after he got off to a strong start (he even made a mid-range jumper). The Felicio minutes were hard to watch, and 3s just weren’t going down outside of the third quarter. Going 2-3 over the last five games against the Knicks twice, Magic twice and Wizards is a rough look, dropping Chicago to 9-14 on the season.
The Bulls face the Pelicans on Wednesday. Maybe they’ll just keep Lonzo Ball in Chicago.