After being blown out at home the other day to the Nets, the Chicago Bulls were looking for a major bounce back effort. It was another big opportunity as they welcome another one of the leagues best teams in the Golden State Warriors to the United Center. This was Chicago’s chance to get a huge win in front of their home fans, especially given what happened in the Brooklyn game. Yet what took place was another thrashing at home as the Bulls lost by 42 with a final score of 138-96. They gave up 112 in the first three quarters including 41 in the second. To make matters worse, Zach LaVine left the game with a knee injury just mere minutes into the game. As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, there is confidence that the injury isn’t a major one. Regardless, losing LaVine is a big blow to Chicago especially on the offensive side.
Zach LaVine’s MRI may get pushed to tonight, but he left the United Center walking fine and is expressing confidence to others the injury isn’t serious, per source. LaVine quietly had been playing through some minor knee swelling, the source said. Tonight’s discomfort added to it— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 15, 2022
Coby White was the leading scorer for the Bulls with 20 on nine of 17 shooting. Nikola Vucevic had a double double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, but still struggled when it came to giving up second chance opportunities as Kevon Looney had six offensive boards. DeMar DeRozan had just 10 shot attempts, making half of them and hit seven free throws to finish with 17 points. Lonzo Ball had 15 points with 12 of them coming from downtown.
Despite the Warriors scoring their first 12 points from downtown, the Bulls were able to stay with them at the start of the opening quarter. But then disaster struck as LaVine subbed himself out of the game and walked straight to the locker room. This came right after he grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed Vucevic jumper. He dribbled to the corner and passed the ball off with no obvious injury. But after a Kevon Looney dunk and Lonzo missed three-pointer, he took a foul and then subbed out.
Even after LaVine left, the Bulls were still holding their own until the final minute and a half of the first. That is when Golden State went on an 8-2 run and held a nine point lead at the end of the quarter. Andre Iguodola had five straight points, including a shot from the top of the arc and then Jordan Poole knocked down a three of his own with mere seconds remaining. Chicago had trouble all game guarding the three-point line and the Warriors were more than happy to cash in on the open opportunities. It was clear that if the Bulls wanted to get back into it they were going to have to pick up the play and in a hurry.
Much like how the third was a disaster on Wednesday, the second quarter was an absolute disaster and took Chicago completely out of the game. Billy Donovan burned two timeouts in under four minutes as Golden State had opened on an 18-5 run. The Warriors offense up until this point was doing all of this without Steph Curry getting really involved. He began to wake up offensively at the start of the second. He scored six points during that run and nine for the quarter. This is when the Bulls offense began to go ice cold. They scored a mere 19 points in the second, with a mere seven of them coming in the first six minutes, and were extremely sloppy with the basketball, making careless turnovers. The offense looked out of sync and the defense was still leaking points on the other end. It was a recipe for a catastrophe as the Warriors kept expanding the lead. Things went from bad to worse when Curry splashed a three-pointer with 27.9 left and it became a 31-point first half advantage for the visitors. There were a couple of boos around the United Center as the teams headed into the locker room. To say it was an ugly stretch for basketball for the Bulls was putting it lightly, they were absolutely played off the court in the second. It’s rare to see a game go into blowout territory so early on but it’s tough for any team to come back from such a big deficit.
The third was more of the same as the Bulls were once again outscored in the quarter. Golden State once again had 30 plus points as they kept converting Chicago defensive mistakes into made baskets. The Bulls didn’t really cut into the lead at all as the score gap remained between the 30’s. It was clear Chicago didn’t have enough in the tank to come back and turn this game into even a slightly competitive one. It then became a 40 point lead as Poole converted a four point play to make it 109-69 with around 20 seconds left in the quarter.
With the score heavily lopsided, the fourth quarter was all garbage time. None of the Bulls starters outside of Troy Brown Jr. saw the action in the final 12 minutes. Players such as Devon Dotson and Marko Simonovic got extended playing time in the fourth as well as Matt Thomas, who started playing in the third. The Warriors did the same and subbed in their end of the bench guys as well. They were still able to keep their big lead up until the end as Chicago suffered a second heavy defeat in a row on national TV.
As for the Warriors, they had six guys score in double figures led by the 25 of Jonathan Kuminga. Looney had a double double of 10 points and 12 rebounds while Poole had 22 points with five made three-pointers. Andrew Wiggins also pitched in with 21 points. Curry ended up finishing with 19 points on the night.
Make no mistake about it, this was a really bad loss for Chicago. Especially when it comes on the heels of what took place against the Nets. The health of LaVine is obviously the main concern as any extended time he misses will certainly hinder Chicago in terms of winning games. It’s up to the other guys on the Bulls to shoulder even more of the workload now that their most dynamic offensive player is out. The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Chicago as they have a second game of a back to back to play against Boston on the road tomorrow night.