Earlier today, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls’ Zach LaVine will be returning in January:
Sounding more and more like LaVine's debut will be in January, not December. He's currently on an every other day plan. Hoiberg said they want multiple consecutive days of work.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 5, 2017
Consequently, it seemed like the Bulls played with extra gusto to start out tonight, determined to get a win because, hey, they have a whole extra month to rack up the tank losses! However, not even a 17-point margin was sufficient, as the lack of skill was too much to overcome. Chicago lost the huge advantage down the stretch, and fell to the Indiana Pacers, 98-96. It was their tenth loss in a row.
The first quarter did not go as planned for Indiana, who walloped the Bulls in their first meeting in Chicago. Robin Lopez tallied 8 points in the quarter, but the real star was Kris Dunn. The maturing point guard scored or assisted on 20 of his team’s first 25 points, an incredible achievement. At the end of the quarter, the Bulls were up 30-20.
The second quarter was much of the same, as the Bulls outscored the Pacers 25-19 in the frame to enter halftime leading by 16 points.
Indiana partially righted the ship in the third quarter, but they still couldn’t lock down the Bulls offense, as easy as it sounds. Victor Oladipo began to exert himself offensively, ending the quarter with 16 points total. Heading into the fourth, Chicago still possessed a 14-point lead.
There, the wheels fell of for the Bulls. Or, if we’re going for the metaphor, the wheels of the tank actually strengthened in the fourth. The Bulls fell into their bad habit of taking bad shots, which alongside poor defense, doomed them down the stretch. Bojan Bogdanovic, Chicago’s Kryptonite, scored 7 points in the quarter, while Oladipo added 11 to his total, including the winning three-pointer and free throw.
For a more specific version of what went wrong, let’s go back to KCJ:
Bulls led 92-79 with 7:14 left and then went 1-for-10 with 2 FTs and four turnovers. Pacers closed with 19-4 run.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 7, 2017
Yeah, that’s pretty ugly. The Bulls are back in action at 6:00 PM on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets.
Look out for our usual takeaways section in a separate piece tomorrow. I’ll highlight five positives and negatives coming out of the loss.