In their last game before the All-Star break, the Chicago Bulls were getting their starting point guard back in Kris Dunn. Dunn was making his return from a concussion. Having him back on the court was huge. However, the game did not go as planned.
Getting run out of the gym in the last game before a break isn’t exactly what the Bulls had in mind, but that’s exactly what happened. When it was over, the Bulls suffered a 122-98 loss to one of the best teams in the East in the Toronto Raptors.
Here are five things from the disappointing loss.
1. Good to Have Dunn Back
Despite the loss, it’s still great to have Dunn back. He is the Bulls point guard of the future and his presence has been missed the last couple weeks. He makes everyone around him better, including rookie Lauri Markkanen. Dunn and Zach LaVine need to play more together in order to develop a successful relationship on the court. It is critical that Dunn and LaVine develop some chemistry in the final few months of the regular season.
In 20 minutes, Dunn scored eight points and had three assists. The statistics don’t tell the whole story here. When Dunn in on the court, the Bulls look like a different team.
2. Who is the Closer?
Speaking of Dunn and LaVine, who is going to be the Bulls closer? Both Dunn and LaVine have shown they can do it, but now they will be on the court at the same time. Personally, I think the hot hand should get the ball. If Dunn is having a bad game then he shouldn’t be taking the final shot. Fred Hoiberg is going to need to make the best decision for the team at that moment. Also, we shouldn’t count out Markkanen for this role. It’s going to be an interesting problem going forward.
3. Effort There, but Absent Wednesday
One thing I love about this Bulls team is that they play hard no matter what. That has been an issue with some players in the past. People can question a lot of things about the Bulls, but not the effort they give on the court for 48 minutes. The exception was Wednesday night’s game. The Bulls seemed to run away from the adversity, which has happened before this season.
“It reminded me of an earlier stretch in the season when adversity hit us and we shut down, and that can’t happen,” Hoiberg said. “We’ve got to keep playing, we’ve got to keep battling, which we’ve done a very good job of for the most part this season.”
4. Big Minutes Being Given to the Wrong Players
Make no mistake about it, the Bulls would be better off tanking and getting a high draft pick. However, they do have three young players that are the future of the organization. Still, it’s frustrating that management and the coaching staff don’t seem to be on the same page. There is no reason for Justin Holiday to be playing 27 minutes. I’m sorry, but what happened to Paul Zipser getting a look? Hell, even Robin Lopez 23 minutes is a bit much for a team that has plenty of young players on the bench.
5. The Losses are Coming *Fingers Crossed
Hopefully, the All-Star break will wake Gar/Pax up and some of these young players will get more playing time than the veterans. If that is the case then we can expect more losses, which is yes, technically a good thing. I still find it hard to root against the Bulls when watching, but it’s what’s best right? I’m going to keep telling myself when things pick up again after the All-Star break. Until then, let’s enjoy watching Dunn and Markkanen on All-Star weekend.