The Chicago Bulls extended their six-game losing streak on Friday night after losing to the Utah Jazz on the road, 113-106.
- Zach LaVine made a return to the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s game to nurse a recent ankle injury. Coby White returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games for a neck injury.
- The starting lineup ended up Tomas Satoransky, LaVine, Patrick Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Nikola Vucevic. This is the best-case scenario starting lineup with a healthy balance of offense and defense.
- The second rotation — Daniel Theis, Lauri Markkanen, and Coby White — was also ideal for offensive purposes (Markkanen and White) paired with excellent rim protection (Theis).
- Head coach Billy Donovan played just four guys off the bench for the second straight game. No Al-Farouq Aminu, Troy Brown Jr., Ryan Arcidiacono, nor Javonte Green.
- Young scored a season-high 25 points on the night, adding seven rebounds and three assists. Moreover, Young added a heavy post-up game to the Bulls’ offense and dominated the Jazz’ frontcourt in the paint. Something the Bulls should continue, especially to get to the charity stripe more often (18.6 free throw attempts per game; 29th in the NBA).
- LaVine played well in his first game back from injury. He recorded 23 points, five rebounds, and three assists, shooting just under 50 percent from the field. More importantly, his gait on the court did not look inhibited, as he avoided limping as he did two games ago.
- Transition Offense. The Bulls’ transition offense was in full swing as they caused four more turnovers than their own in this one. They scored 12 fast break points compared to the Jazz’s three points. Kudos to them for protecting the ball with just seven turnovers against the NBA’s fifth-best defense.
- The Bulls struggled from three. The Bulls made just seven of their 28 three-point attempts against the Jazz, for an underwhelming 25 percent from distance.
- In contrast to the last point, the Bulls dominated the paint. They scored 68 of their 106 points (64 percent) in the paint — even with Rudy Gobert protecting the rim. A hopeful return of foul line attempts was noted by Billy Donovan in his post-game press conference.
- Markkanen and White struggled off the bench. They combined for nine points, shooting 4/11 together from the field in 47 combined minutes. The Bulls need more from these two guys. As former starters, they should be dominating other team’s second rotations.
- Bojan Bogdanovic was hot early on, and Donovan made a solid decision early to switch LaVine off of him and place Williams onto him. This caused him to slow down a bit, but Bogdanovic still shot 8/15 from the field and put up 18 points.
- The pick-and-roll defense failed yet again. Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, and Gobert took great advantage of the drop coverage, scoring 26, 19, and 18, respectively.
- The Bulls’ defense kept the third-best offense in the NBA to a respectable 113 points. The Jazz shot right on their average of 46.8 percent from the field. The only takeaway comes from the 27 opportunities the Bulls gave them at the free-throw line, as the Jazz put in 26 of them.
- Keep an eye out for Donovan’s after-timeout (ATO) plays. He drew up two successful near the end of the game for wide-open threes from LaVine and Vucevic. While LaVine wasn’t able to capitalize on his, they were able to free themselves against a defense that holds their opponents to shooting 34.6 percent from downtown (fourth in the NBA).
- LaVine looked visibly frustrated at the end of the game. With seconds left in the fourth quarter, there was a miscommunication that caused a failed trap play on Mike Conley. LaVine immediately started yelling at his supporting cast in frustration. Hopefully, LaVine’s frustration is contagious to the rest of the squad to end their losing streak.
The Bulls hung tough with the best team in the Western Conference, losing by just seven points. However, the six-game losing streak still survives. The ice is thinning at the Bulls’ 10th spot in the Eastern Conference, as they lead by just one game over the Toronto Raptors, who won by 53 points over the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.
The Bulls’ schedule will not get any easier for them, as they will take on the Brooklyn Nets at home on Sunday at 1 p.m. CST.