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Bulls vs. Pelicans final score: Chicago falls in a 115-111 thriller

Despite an amazing fourth quarter, the Bulls late game mistakes costed them

NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

It was quite the fourth quarter spectacle at the United Center as the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Pelicans traded clutch baskets. Sadly the home team couldn’t get it done in a 115-111 defeat.

To the Bulls’ credit, they kept battling in crunch time, answering the Pelicans at every chance. DeMar DeRozan was getting to the hoop, and despite a rough start to the game, Nikola Vucevic hit two huge three-pointers, including one in the corner which gave Chicago the lead late.

But New Orleans showed why they are one of the leagues most dangerous offenses as Brandon Ingram kept attacking the Bulls.

He hit a three a couple of possessions later to give New Orleans a lead they would not relinquish. DeRozan tried to answer but was stopped at the rim on a play which a call could have gone either way, but ultimately went against the Bulls.

The Bulls caught another break when a missed free throw gave them the chance to tie the game down three. Then disaster struck as the ball slipped from DeRozan’s hands on the inbound catch, went off his foot, and trickled out of bounds for a costly turnover.

That was the dagger as the Pelicans hit their free throws to ice the game.

Despite the late miscues, DeRozan led the way with 33 points as he shot 14 of 26 from the field. He really picked things up near the end of the third and kept the Bulls in it with his shot making. Zach LaVine finished with 23 points along with four rebounds and assists. It was an inefficient night for him as he shot nine of 22 from the field but more importantly he showed some of the explosiveness on drives that was lacking at the start of the season.

As a team, the Bulls were great from the floor hitting half of their shots. But from the three-point line it was another story as they hit only 25.9 percent. Turnovers have been a problem for Chicago all season and it showed up again with 15 in this game.

Vucevic struggled for much of the game against Jonas Valanciunas but still finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. He hit some big shots late but overall it was a rough performance from the big man.

For the rest of the starters, both Ayo Dosunmu and Patrick Williams finished with seven points a piece, but it was interesting to note that Billy Donovan chose to run out with Goran Dragic and Alex Caruso during crunch time instead of the two starters. Dragic had 14 and continued his strong start to the season. He also tacked on six assists including some sick lob passes to Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr. in the second half.

Another notable contribution from the bench came from Andre Drummond, who made his return after a six game absence, playing 12 minutes with two points and five rebounds.

As for New Orleans, they were led by the 22 of Ingram with the majority of them coming in the fourth quarter. Zion Williamson had 19 while Valanciunas had a double double of 21 points and 13 rebounds. New Orleans also had 13 offensive rebounds as a team, punishing Chicago for not finishing defensive possessions.

This was a tough loss for the Bulls as they battled back from down double digits in the second half to take the lead late only to watch it slip away. The fight from this team to keep battling back is admirable, however it is a bit worrying to see their struggles in crunch time show up again. Last year it was DeRozan time in the fourth but so far there hasn’t been any late game magic from anyone.

There is also the question of what they will do in lineups where DeRozan is the only shot creator and he gets constantly doubled. The Bulls have to continue to attack these situations and force defenses to stop using this strategy.

Good news is that for maybe the first time all year the Bulls has a bit of a break before their next game, which comes on Sunday against the Nuggets.