The Bulls started their first game of the season against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Coming off a rocky preseason, the Bulls were looking to get off to a strong start to their regular season. The starting lineup consisted of Cameron Payne, Zach LaVine, Justin Holiday, Bobby Portis, and Wendell Carter Jr.
Kris Dunn missed the trip to Philly due to the birth of his child and Lauri Markkanen was still nursing the elbow injury he suffered a couple weeks ago. As a result, the Bulls came in a little bit shorthanded and required a strong start to the game from their starters.
Both teams looked evenly matched early on.
Bobby Portis and Zach LaVine got the Bulls off to a strong start. LaVine scored 14 of the Bulls 41 points in the first quarter and really looked impressive all night. He attacked the basket with intent while also hitting a hot streak by making many shots from the perimeter. The Bulls scored 41 points in the first quarter shooting above 60% from the field. That was the highest-scoring first quarter ever in franchise history.
However, throughout much of the first half, the defense struggled mightily. The 76ers got to the rim quite often and had many easy layups. Also, they were able to find the open man along the perimeter without much resistance. To top it all off, the 76ers shot 18 free throws whereas the Bulls only shot three.
The Bulls trailed the 76ers at halftime 65-58 with Bobby Portis leading the team in scoring with 18 points.
There was a struggle to carry the momentum from the first quarter into the second half. The Bulls still allowed the 76ers to get off easy shots in the paint while struggling to make baskets themselves.
In addition, both LaVine and Portis ran into foul trouble, which caused Coach Hoiberg to revert to his bench quicker than he expected. Midway through the third quarter, the Bulls were down as much as 23 points.
Despite being down, the bench put in a very strong effort, playing with pace and moving the ball along with solid defense. This effort was exciting because it seemed to me that Coach Hoiberg had command of this locker room and never let his guys quit.
LaVine finished with a strong game scoring 30 points off 11-19 shooting. Despite his strong efforts, the Bulls fell to the 76ers 127-108. Outside of the strong performances from Portis and LaVine, it’s hard to find positives from the Bulls’ opening night loss.
The Bulls play the Detroit Pistons at the United Center this Saturday for their first home game of the season.
Follow Nikhil on Twitter–Featured Photo Credit: FoxSports.com