The Chicago Bulls can’t give up the same tired script.
For one quarter Wednesday night, they seemed to be pulling their heads above water. But despite building a 24-point lead over the Indiana Pacers in the opening quarter, the Bulls found themselves in a dogfight in the fourth quarter after squandering their advantage and lost their fifth straight game 117-113.
The Pacers took their first lead with 8:51 left and spent the final stretch trading shots as the Bulls fell back on their heels.
The final minutes felt like a welterweight bout in which both sides dropped their gloves and started swinging. Myles Turner splashed a 3-pointer with 1:19 remaining for a 111-110 Pacers lead. Zach LaVine answered by drawing a foul and hitting two free throws. Tyrese Haliburton banked in a floater to put the Pacers back on top.
LaVine scored 35 points but couldn’t lift the Bulls to a victory, missing a jump shot, a free throw and a 3-pointer in the final 11 seconds as the game slipped out of reach.
The five-game rut is the Bulls’ longest losing streak this season.
- The Bulls continue to struggle to hold leads even when they start a game on the right note. They took a 24-point lead in the first quarter only to get outscored by eight in the second quarter and by 12 in the third. That forced the Bulls back onto their heels as they entered the fourth with their lead cut to four.
- Ball protection continues to be a sore spot for the Bulls, who allowed 17 points off 13 turnovers. The Bulls forced the Pacers into similar mistakes — scoring 23 points off 19 Indiana turnovers — but their errors on the offensive end limited their ability to regain momentum in the second half.
- The Bulls opened the game with heat, scoring 39 points in the first quarter. With DeMar DeRozan sidelined, the offense was fueled by well-spread ball movement as the Bulls tallied 10 assists on 15 made field goals. LaVine scored 12 points in the opening quarter and Ayo Dosunmu added nine. The Bulls went 4-for-10 from 3-point range and scored 13 points off seven turnovers.
- The Bulls broke out of a 3-point shooting drought, going 15-for-35 behind the arc. Coby White was 5-for-8 from deep and scored a season-high 25 points. Nikola Vučević finished 3-for-5 from 3-point range and LaVine went 4-for-11.
- Dalen Terry earned a heavier rotation of second-half minutes with injuries piling up. His defensive energy again showed up as he swatted away a 3-point attempt on one of his first plays of the third quarter.
One for the books
This Bulls loss was a small slice of history: the fourth-largest comeback from the end of the first quarter in the shot-clock era. It was the largest comeback from the first quarter since 2008.
This is becoming a trend for the Bulls, who have five losses this season in which they blew a lead of at least 16 points. Coach Billy Donovan said fending off a comeback is a skill the Bulls need to improve — but it doesn’t come down to just one flaw.
“This has been something that we have to be able to overcome,” Donovan said. “It’s skill. It’s poise. It’s composure. It’s experience. It’s decision making. It’s all those things. It’s not one thing.”
The Bulls were short-handed in Indiana. Besides DeRozan (right thigh strain), they were missing Derrick Jones Jr. (left adductor strain) and Goran Dragić (left knee soreness). They called up Carlik Jones and Marko Simonović from the G League Windy City Bulls to ensure a full roster.
Where they stand
The Bulls are 26-32 and remain 11th in the Eastern Conference, one game ahead of the Pacers.
What comes next
The Bulls will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday in their last game before the All-Star break. DeRozan is scheduled to participate in Sunday’s All-Star Game in Salt Lake City as a reserve.
Source: Berkshire mont
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