The Bulls lost to the Bucks for the second time in as many days thanks to terrible shooting and even worse coaching.
This Bulls team continues to look more and more like the enigmatic team from last season with every passing game.
Tonight was the perfect example of that, as Chicago fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 95-69 for the second day in a row. Fans may recall that this isn’t even the only time this calendar year that the Bulls have lost to the same opponent on back-to-back nights, as last year’s team lost twice to the Knicks under the same circumstances towards the end of the season.
As for this game, Robin Lopez kicked things off for the Bulls in solid fashion, scoring the first four points of the game and grabbing four offensive rebounds in the opening four minutes. However, the rest of the team had a lot of trouble getting anything going in that same stretch of time, allowing the Bucks to go on a 13-2 run after Lopez’s initial spurt. Giannis Antetokounmpo kept up his momentum from last night by taking responsibility for twelve of the Bucks’ first eighteen points through the initial six minutes. The Greek Freak’s hot shooting and excellent facilitation set the tone for a Bucks team that played with great pace and unselfishness for the rest of the quarter, which included a 14-0 run in the final four minutes. Meanwhile, the Bulls struggled to get any sort of offense going; shooting just barely over 23% from the field for the quarter and getting no bench points whatsoever. As a result, the Bulls ended the first period down 34-15.
The narrative did not change much in the second quarter. Giannis continued to frustrate the hell out of the Bulls defense, and Jabari Parker got himself going with some hyper-efficient interior scoring. Stacey King correctly pointed out that Giannis seemed too fast for Taj Gibson to be guarding him and that perhaps the Bulls should have switched Jimmy Butler off of Parker to put their best defender back on the perimeter. The adjustment never came from Fred Hoiberg, who just looked on perplexed as Milwaukee relentlessly carved up Chicago’s defense.
Meanwhile, news broke during the quarter that Nikola Mirotic completely forgot about a team walkthrough earlier this afternoon after receiving a DNP-Coach’s Decision for the first time in his career last night. Hoiberg continued to ignore the thought of bringing Mirotic off the bench, and the Bulls’ shooting predictably continued to struggle. Though Mirotic has been fairly inconsistent this season with respect to his own shooting, it’s hard to imagine that a stretch four wouldn’t have helped open up the offense a bit for a team that struggled greatly to get anything going. Hoiberg refused to crack, however, while the Bulls found themselves down 56-37 at the half.
If I’m being honest, the third quarter was just a total blur of mediocrity to me. After the Bulls forced me into my third whiskey-eggnog of the evening, I came back to find them down 27 points. I also saw Jabari Parker throw down a dunk from just under the freethrow line after one of Rajon Rondo’s worst turnovers of the season. Making matters worse, Jimmy Butler continued to take awful shot attempts to the tune of shooting 3-14 from the field and Bobby Portis kept trying to instigate a fight with Greg Monroe for some reason. Taj Gibson also suffered a hip contusion and got knocked out for the rest of the game. The Bulls rallied a bit towards the end of the quarter—and by rallied, I mean finally got their shooting total to above 30%—but they still ended the third down 74-52 after scoring only 15 points in the period for their second time tonight.
Fred Hoiberg basically gave up in the fourth quarter, but it’s not like he made any effort to coach in this game anyway. He rolled out a lineup of Isaiah Canaan, Denzel Valentine, Der McDougmott, Paul Zipser, and Cristiano Felicio about four minutes into the final period that got promptly destroyed by the Bucks’ ball movement. Jason Kidd did not call off the dogs either; allowing Giannis to complete his points/assists double-double about midway through the fourth. The Bulls proceeded to get booed off their home floor as they failed to top 70 points and the game mercifully ended with a final score of 95-69.
This one is going down as one of the most poorly-coached games of Fred Hoiberg’s career. One would like to think an NBA-level coach would come out more prepared with a better gameplan on the second night of a back-to-back against the SAME TEAM following a loss, but that was the total opposite of what happened tonight. Granted, the Bulls looked tired as a whole on their third game in four nights—particularly Dwyane Wade, whom got consistently burned on defense—but Hoiberg didn’t react to any success the Bucks were having throughout the game. Giannis took advantage of Hoiberg’s lethargy by dropping 22 points, 11 assists, and grabbing 7 rebounds to set the tone for a Bucks team that played with great pace and unselfishness. Conversely, Wade was the only starter that got into double figures with 12 points on 14 shots, yet still led the whole team in scoring as Jimmy Butler had one of his worst games of the season. Butler did not play in the fourth quarter and failed to record a single freethrow attempt for the first time in 53 games.
Oh, and Tony Snell obviously had a higher +/- rating than any of his former teammates with +9 thanks to 10 points.
It doesn’t get much worse that what we’ve seen from the Bulls this week. After blowing a 21 point lead against the lowly Timberwolves at home on Monday night, the Bulls followed that up with two awful losses to the same opponent in as many days. The Bulls need to rest up and get it together over the weekend, as they will take on the Detroit Pistons at home next Monday night.
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