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Bulls vs. Clippers final score: another night, another blown double-digit lead

at least this was to a good team?

Los Angeles Clippers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Well, it happened again. Our hapless Chicago Bulls built up an impressive early double-digit lead only to squander the whole darn thing and stumble into a loss.

This time, their opposition was significantly more impressive than the last two teams to pull off this feat against them, but that’s still not really a great excuse for Chicago’s brutally erratic play on both ends of the floor.

Hosting Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and their full-ish strength Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago pieced together a superlative first quarter-and-a-half of basketball before falling apart yet again. The Bulls led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, but could not prevent the Clippers from going on a gangbusters 24-3 run around the midway point of the second quarter to get right back into the game.

The Bulls’ lead was much more tenuous at the break than one would have expected, at just a 58-54 score. Center Nikola Vucevic and small forward DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Bulls in the first half, with 17 and 12 points apiece.

LA and Chicago exchanged buckets for much of the third quarter, with neither team leading by more than six points. At the end of the frame, thanks in large part to the efforts of Ivica Zubac, the Clippers led by a point, 85-84.

For the Bulls in that quarter, the growth of Patrick Williams on defense and as a passer was on display. He first showed off his Chi Slamma Jamma bonafides with this third-quarter slam:

And subsequently flashed his passing acumen with this nifty number:

In the 4th, DeRozan hit a huge jumper to get Chicago within a point late on a 7-3 Bulls run against a switchy small-ball LA lineup.

Later in crunch time it was opposites day as Zach LaVine’s block led to a Caruso layup:

So even despite their incredibly depressing collapse in the second quarter, the Bulls had managed to keep this contest close enough to have a legitimate chance to send the game into overtime in the closing seconds of regulation. The Clippers led by three at 106-103 with 10.1 seconds remaining in the game, but the Bulls had possession.

But it never really, truly felt like they were going to make it work because, well, they just keep finding new ways to disappoint us.

Caruso inbounded the ball to Zach, who immediately got stripped by Clippers defensive menace Kawhi Leonard. Chicago had no choice but to foul LA after this, essentially wrapping up the W for LA.

It was an ignominious end to yet another unhappy evening in the UC. With the loss, Chicago falls to 23-27 on the season, and the trade deadline looming.

LaVine coughed up the ball a ton, with that last one being his sixth of his own.Plus he scored just 18 points on an inefficient 6-of-14 shooting from the floor (3-of-5 from deep), though he pulled down a career-high 14 boards and passed for eight assist. DeMar DeRozan was worse with the ball (eight turnovers to just five assists), and also had a mediocre shooting night (20 points while shooting 8-of-19 from the field and 4-of-6 from the charity stripe),

Nikola Vucevic had a relatively solid game, scoring 23 points on 10-of-15 shooting, pulling down 14 rebounds (it was his 29th double-double of the season), dishing out four dimes, and swiping two steals in 38:40. Williams and Ayo Dosunmu each scored 11 points, and as Alex Caruso added 10 off the bench (3-of-3 shooting, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc).

For the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard finished with a game-high 33 points on 11-of-24 shooting from the floor, while sixth man Norman Powell had 27 on 7-of-11 shooting.

There isn’t a ton left to say about this Bulls team as currently comprised. They clearly don’t have enough to win consistently: struggling to communicate on both sides of the hardwood and they’re having trouble protecting the ball (20 turnovers). They remain an infrequent three-point shooting team, although tonight the disparity in triple tries was mitigated by the Clippers’ miserable night from deep: Chicago went 12-of-24 from three, while LA shot a paltry 12-of-44, but still won the game.

As a devout DeMar fan, I’ve been hesitant to vote for a full-team teardown, but this club is so far away from contention (and has been so reticent to make meaningful moves to improve itself since that initial flurry of 2021 offseason deals) that I think I’m finally open to it — or, at least, a complete “retool” around DDR. They’ve broken me.