Note-A-Bulls: Bulls stifled as Bench Mob fails to get the job done

Coming in four games over .500, the Bulls looked to provide some cushioning on Wednesday night against the Lakers, with a matchup against Cleveland looming. Despite maintaining a lead through much of the game, the Bulls ultimately let one get away at the Madhouse on Madison. Ultimately, it was a tale of two benches as the Lakers were able to squeeze past the Bulls with contributions from throughout the rotation.

  • With everyone healthy, Hoiberg’s usual lineup of Rondo, Wade, Butler, Gibson, and Lopez started the game off. Despite some sloppy offense, the lineup managed to keep the Bulls ahead by contributing defensively.
  • The Bulls started the game off strong in the 1st quarter. Scoring 28 points and holding the Lakers to 17 would usually be enough for a win. After being up by as many as 14 points, the Bulls looked ready to distance themselves early.
  • With 11 points of cushioning going into the 2nd, the teams switched roles. Twice, the Lakers managed to chip away at the Bulls lead and draw nearly even, before the Bulls distanced themselves to keep it a two possession game. However, the Lakers took one more shot at the Bulls’ lead, leaving Chicago with no time to go back up as the half ended with the score being 47-47.
  • Unclear what the 2nd half held in store, the Bulls got back into form and outscored the Lakers 26-23, to give themselves a small lead, but a lead nonetheless going into the 4th quarter. Taj Gibson quickly snagged four boards, before Hoiberg let Mirotic have the remaining minutes in the quarter.
  • The 4th quarter felt like 12 minutes of Déjà vu. After the Bulls once again had the lead, the Lakers quickly began to chip away, tying or leading the game multiple times. Three times, the Bulls managed to reclaim the lead after surrendering it, but the fourth time was where the buck would stop. After tying the game up at 90 points apiece, the Lakers finished on a 6-0 run to win 96-90.
  • With 10 points, 9 rebounds, and a very impressive 8 blocks, Robin Lopez contributed some much needed support to help the Bulls hold on for most of the game. 
  • In a good illustration of how the game went for Chicago, Taj Gibson had a double-double with 10 rebounds and 11 points. However, he would foul out after some sloppy defensive fouls while matched up with Julius Randle. 
  • Only two bench players played over 20 minutes for the Bulls, Isaiah Canaan and Nikola Mirotic, going a combined 5-18 from the field. Denzel Valentine and Jerian Grant each saw over five minutes of playing time.
  • In another demonstration of just how this game went down, Butler was a brutal 4-18 from the field. On par with the sloppy defense from both sides though, he managed to get 15 shots from the foul line, and would make 13 of those to give him 22 points on the night. 
  • Not surprisingly, each of the Bulls’ starters had at least three fouls for the night, while five Lakers also had at least three fouls as well.  A total of 70 free throws were attempted between the two sides.
  • The bad: The Bulls shot a poor 35% from the field, but an abysmal 19% from beyond the arc on 21 attempts. A large part of this was due to the bench alone going just 1-11 from three-point range.
  • Like the Bulls, the Lakers’ stat sheet was nothing exciting from either side. They went just under 41% from the field, and did themselves few favors by only making 68% of their 41 free throw attempts. The difference maker though, was 36 points from Clarkson and Williams off the bench, each scoring 18, while Nance Jr. added on 12 as well.
  • Despite (ex-Bull?) Jose Calderon starting at point guard, Jordan Clarkson flashed his potential in 34 minutes off the bench. All of his points were scored from the field, with a very impressive 9-18 performance, which the Lakers desperately needed. 
  • Up Next: the Bulls host the reigning champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on Friday.
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