Robin Lopez: talented center, t-shirt connoisseur, and psychic? Asked recently on the possibility of sitting the whole season for the Chicago Bulls, he reasoned otherwise, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I don’t think it will come to that,” Lopez said. “I think I’ll be playing.”
Sure enough, likely accelerated by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s request for the Bulls to play their best players, Lopez returned to the starting lineup tonight. Not skipping a beat, Lopez played well. However, Chicago overall looked pretty bad, scoring just 83 points and falling by 16 to the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.
The contest started out promising for the Bulls, as they stayed out in front of Detroit for almost the entire first half. However, they took their foot off the gas pedal and wound up down two as time expired in the second quarter.
RoLo getting us started off right tonight: pic.twitter.com/HkF2z9dJNV
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 10, 2018
Lopez led Chicago with 9 points in the half, followed by multiple Bulls with 8 points. Yet with a 49-47 score at half, this wasn’t a “true team effort” by Chicago, rather a bad shooting night for the group as a whole.
Pushing the boundaries of the NBA’s anti-tanking declaration, Fred Hoiberg and Co. withheld Lopez from playing in the second half. While he likely wouldn’t have changed the battle’s outcome, the decision certainly didn’t help from a winning perspective.
Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne continued to be the best scorers for the Bulls, but inability to create quality shots prevented the team from keeping even in the second half. Compounding on that was Blake Griffin having another stellar night for the home team, and getting help from shooting guard Reggie Bullock, who surprisingly tallied 21 points on the night.
Detroit pulled away as the final two frames went on, and Chicago just didn’t have an answer. In the end, they shot 35.5% from the field on their way to a 99-83 final margin of defeat.
Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine went 0-7 from three-point land tonight, which was a main cause of Chicago’s struggles in the game. If those two can’t stretch the defense, the Bulls become pretty one-dimensional. Unfortunately, that dimension is drive to the hoop, meet resistance, and put up a bad shot.
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) March 10, 2018
In the end it wasn’t the best tank loss, as the core players were pretty discouraging to watch. But a loss is a loss, so Bulls fans should be satisfied. After all, the problems on the offensive side of the court don’t seem to be a trend, so this performance doesn’t indicate any long-term worries.
On the bright side, Robin Lopez seemed pretty unaffected by his lengthy vacation. He’s cemented himself as a solid piece moving forward—whether as a staple down low or an intriguing trade asset. In just 12 minutes of first half play, the center racked up a line of 9 points, 2 rebounds, and 100% field goal shooting. Not too shabby.
Moving forward, the Bulls get a day of rest before a Sunday matinee against the Atlanta Hawks. It will be interesting to see how Chicago adjusts with the increased playing time for Lopez and Justin Holiday. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Hawks are vying for a top draft pick as well. Who will win the battle of the tanks? Find out on WGN at 2:30 p.m. CST.