After a promising week 3, the Chicago Bulls had a meltdown this week. They started the week 4-6 and are now 5-9. The offense was not up to par this week as they failed to score 100 points in two games and barely broke it in one of the games (102). Let's take a look at what unfolded this past week.
November 13th (Bucks)
Giannis Antetokounmpo. That's all that needs to be said. He completely dominated Chicago, totaling 35 points and 11 rebounds throughout the contest. Other than that, all other players on Milwaukee were held in check, including Damian Lillard, who shot 3-17, finishing with 12 points. But it wasn't enough, as the Bulls lost 109-118. The reason for the loss was mainly because of how poorly they played in the 1st quarter. The score was 35-18, and Chicago missed 16 of their first 19 field goal attempts. It was abysmal to witness, but they found their groove later in the game and ended up actually taking the lead for the first time with 5:15 left in the 3rd quarter. After they took the lead, the Bucks went on a 12-0 run and never looked back.
The team shot a lackluster 38% (38-100 FG) for the game. You can't expect to beat such a talented team in Milwaukee, shooting that low of a percentage. Lavine shot 5-19 (20 points), and DeRozan shot 3-14 (11 points). Vucevic performed the best tonight with 26 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists. Pat Williams also had an impressive game, providing life off the bench. He had 13 points (3-4 3pts), three blocks, and two steals. Chicago really missed Alex Caruso as well. He missed his 2nd straight game due to a left toe injury. Williams gave them the spark that Caruso usually brings off the bench, but everyone else on the bench did not play well.
November 15th (Magic)
The offensive struggles continued as the Bulls were held to the lowest-scoring half of the NBA season, 33 points. It doesn't help that Derozan didn't play (for personal reasons), but no team should score 33 points in a half. That's embarrassing. Even after such a slow start, though, the Bulls played terrific defense in the 2nd half and were able to come back. Lavine drained a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to cut it to a score of 93-91. Magic guard Anthony Black was then fouled. He made his first free throw but missed the second. Lavine had the hot hand and saw that as another opportunity to hit a big shot. With 7 seconds left, he pulled up and buried another 3, tying the game at 94. The problem is they left too much time on the clock. The Magic inbounded the ball with 7 seconds left and let Paolo Banchero post up. He took a couple of dribbles and faded away for the game-winning shot. Despite how poorly Chicago played, they once again had the chance to win the game but failed to do so, losing 96-94.
Nobody on the team surpassed 20 points. Lavine led the way with 19 points (6-16 FG), six rebounds, and three assists, and Vucevic followed with 17 points (8-18 FG), nine rebounds, and three assists. Alex Caruso again does what he does best- providing a spark off the bench. He had 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, and one block. He played phenomenal defense and finished with a +7 +/-. Andre Drummond also played well on the glass, grabbing 14 rebounds (5 offensive rebounds). Once again, I know the Magic aren't as talented as the Bucks, but shooting 39% as a team and scoring 94 points is not going to cut it in today's league.
November 17th (Magic)
Chicago was held to 33 points in the 1st half, the lowest of the NBA season. You probably think this is a typo since I stated in the paragraph above against the same team, "The offensive struggles continued as the Bulls were held to the lowest scoring half of the NBA season, 33 points". But unfortunately, it is not a typo. At half-time, the score was 48-33 in favor of the Magic. Just like in the last game, the Bulls came back and had a chance to win. Within the final minute, they were down 96-92. Alex Caruso nailed two clutch free throws to cut the lead to 2, then got the ball back after a stop and drilled a three from the top of the key to take the lead, 97-96. The United Center crowd erupted and was ready for redemption after the last game. Franz Wagner (21 points) had other plans, though, as he finished through the contact on a tough and-1 layup to put the Magic back up 99-97. Vucevic then missed a 3-pointer in the corner, and the Bulls were forced to foul Jonathan Isaac (18 points), who iced both free throws to seal the game. Bulls lose 103-97.
Lavine was impressive, scoring 34 points (12-20 FG), grabbing six boards, and having three assists. Derozan totaled 23 points (10-20 FG), four rebounds, and three assists in his return to action after missing the last game. The Bulls went small to start the game, starting Caruso over Craig. This had positive and negative effects. The positive impact was that Caruso was as efficient as could be. He had 18 points (5-6 FG, 4-5 3pt), three steals, and two blocks. He has been nothing but amazing for this squad. The negative effect was that the bench scored a total of 8 points. Drummond had 5, and Craig had 3. As great of a player as Caruso is, it is important for him to be the main scorer off the bench, or they'll get very little production from that area.
November 18th (Heat)
What's new? Chicago once again struggled in the 1st half, specifically the 1st quarter. They started the game off, going down 22-1! Then they do what they do best - climb back. Caruso made a 3-pointer with 51 seconds left to take their first lead of the contest. The Heat went down and missed their next shot, so Demar Derozan saw the chance to ice the game. With 18 seconds left, he hit a fadeaway jumper to seal the deal. Bulls win 102-97.
All starters scored in double digits tonight. It's always nice to see a balanced point of attack instead of just Derozan or Lavine going for 40. DeRozan had the most points with 23 (6-12 FG), along with 4 rebounds, four assists, and a steal. Vucevic had 15, White had 14, Lavine had 13, and Caruso had 11. Caruso started again, but luckily, the bench was somewhat productive this time. Jevon Carter led the bench with nine points, hitting three 3-pointers. He also finished with a +17 +/-.
The players have acknowledged their lack of production in the 1st half this season and realize it's not something that continues. This team has playoff potential as a 7-8 seed, but to get there, they need to win the close games that they keep finding themselves getting into.
November 20th (vs Heat)
November 22nd (@ Thunder)
November 24th (@ Raptors)
November 26th (@ Nets)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)