One day after a last-second loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Bulls returned home to face the 7-15 Sacramento Kings. However, Chicago sported a different lineup tonight, with Bobby Portis out and David Nwaba returning. Despite getting out to a solid start, the Bulls again faltered down the stretch, eventually suffering a 107-106 loss that wasn’t even as heartbreaking as the score would indicate.
Starting out, the Bulls found success running their offense, and finished the first quarter up 31-29. Who cares about the score though, let’s focus on this snapshot of rebuild potential instead:
Dunn steal, Lauri dunk. pic.twitter.com/0u8qEVq8zw
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) December 2, 2017
Moving into the second, the Bulls gradually built a substantial lead, thanks to some hot shooting from multiple players. As the half wound down, however, Sacramento chipped away, and at halftime the Kings led by one.
The Kings decided to mirror the Bulls, which usually sounds like a poor idea, in the third quarter. Sacramento jumped out to a 7-point advantage in the first five minutes, but just as the Bulls did in the second quarter, lost it as time went on. Entering the fourth, it was still just a one point game.
From there, the Bulls battled, but ultimately could not make the necessary stops in crunch time. Lauri Markkanen hit two important buckets mid-quarter, but missed on his last three shots. It’s hard to tell right now if the Finnish phenom has the clutch gene, as he’s made a couple big shots in crunch time already this season.
A defensive breakdown with around 25 seconds to go allowed the Kings to go up 4 on a huge play for Sacramento. Bogdan Bogdanovic, who finished second in Kings’ scoring behind Zach Randolph‘s 25, hit just enough free throws to put the game out of reach in the final seconds. Jerian Grant knocked down a three as time expired, but it wasn’t enough.
Markkanen is slowly emerging from his slump. He managed to go 5-13 tonight on 2-6 three-point shooting, though he only snatched 7 rebounds. Though not very pretty numbers, he’s playing much better than he was in late November.
Tonight was all about the 2017 Bulls. Paul Zipser, Cristiano Felicio, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez all tallied double-digit points on over 42% shooting. If that group begins to pick it up, we may see continued close losses instead of blowouts.
The Bulls’ last two losses have been very enjoyable as fans. Overall play wasn’t bad, some of the youngsters looked great, and the team secured a loss—perfect for the tank.