The Bulls faced off in Charlotte tonight where they lost to the Hornets 110-104. Being down by as much as 23 points, it wasn’t as closed as it seemed.
Through the first three quarters, it felt as if the entire Bulls team was a step-slow on defense. Defending the pick and roll was a challenge all night. Whether it was fighting through screens or defending the trailer, the Hornets worked it to perfection. Help defense was often caught lacking and not alert defensively.
After some adjustments, defense tightened up and defenders started switching on screens to hold the Hornets to just 19 fourth quarter points.
Kemba Walker was in mid-season form running the offense while dropping 20 points and seven rebounds. No defender was a match for him as he changed speeds to get to the hoop with ease.
Jabari Parker picked up right where he left off against the Bucks, shooting just 3-11 from the field while scoring only nine points. Parker settled for shots in the first half before he started driving to the basket where he drew a couple fouls.
It wasn’t all bad for the Bulls, Zach Lavine looked more than okay after his thigh contusion which took him out of game as precaution against the Bucks. He scored a game high 26 points in just 24 minutes. His explosiveness to the basket opened up his three point shooting later in the game where he nailed three three’s in a row in consecutive possessions.
LaVine is the clear leader on the team. When the offense looked for an answer it seemed as if he always had one. If Kris Dunn can limit the turnovers and stay out of foul trouble, this backcourt will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Bulls bench outscored the Hornets bench led by Bobby Portis’s 17 points and eight rebounds. He is averaging 18.3 points per game during the preseason. Portis looks poised for a breakout year and a conversation piece for sixth man of the year.
The high-low action between Portis and Wendell Carter Jr. proved to be trouble for the Hornets defense. Carter had a team high five assists. He possess great awareness in the post that will make him one of the best big man passers in the league.
Antonio Blakeney also had an impressive performance shooting 5-11 for 15 points. The bulls bench provides many options for scoring. When Markkanen returns, Justin Holiday will only add to the list of bench options.
With just under 4:30 to go left in the game the Bulls cut it to six when Hoiberg brought in the bench to finish the game. The bench kept it close which led them ultimately losing by six.
The Bulls next play the Indiana Pacers this Wednesday back home in Chicago at 7:00 Central Time.
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