The Bulls played catch-up for most of the game against the leaders of the Western Conference. The squad remained competitive in the first quarter, remaining six points behind the Jazz by the end. LaVine scored eight of his 27 points of the night in the first quarter of the game and Thaddeus Young was playing aggressively in the paint against Rudy Gobert.
“I thought we started the game really well. I thought we had a couple of good drives to start the game in the first six minutes we were getting downhill,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “I thought part of the reason we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well is we didn’t have anything downhill towards the basket.”
Once the second rotation came into the game, the Bulls took a turn for the worst. It’s tough to compete with a bench as deep as the Jazz. They have Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, Georges Niang, and Derrick Favors representing a deep second rotation. They outscored the Bulls 27-19 in the second quarter which put them up by 14 points heading into halftime.
The Bulls’ defense wasn’t all that stellar either. The Jazz shot over 50 percent from behind the arc for much of the game and the Bulls were playing back on defense against their matchups. That gave the Jazz free-reign to shoot the ball from midrange to three-point land.
“I think the two toughest things to do in the game of basketball are close-out and to get back in transition,” said Donovan. “And we were having to get back in transition a lot, and their ability to beat us off the dribble forced us to close out more.
By the third quarter, the Bulls were still playing catch up. Tomas Satoransky put up seven points in the quarter, second to LaVine’s nine points. Sato ended with 13 points, two rebounds, and four assists. The Bulls failed to win a single quarter and ended up losing by 25 points.
Gobert’s interior defense was a nightmare for the Bulls. He recorded nine blocks on the night along with 21 points 10 rebounds in the game.
Donovan Mitchell was unguardable and a force the Bulls didn’t know how to tame. They tried many different matchups between Patrick Williams, Lauri Markkanen, and LaVine. Donovan ended up with 30 points, six rebounds, and six assists, shooting 11/19 from the floor.
The Bulls’ bench was not present in tonight’s game. They scored 27 points, while the Jazz scored 43 points off the bench. Coby White led the bench scoring by putting up 10 points but his shooting inefficiencies continue as they shot 4/12 from the field.
The Bulls shot around 60 percent from around the rim, which isn’t stellar. They also shot horrifically from outside the paint. The Bulls made just 27.5 percent of their attempts from outside the paint, including three-point shots. The Jazz’s defense attributed to this issue as they have the fifth-best defense in the NBA.
The defense for the Bulls obviously wasn’t exciting, allowing the Jazz to shoot 48.9 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from behind the arc as a team. For a team that scores the third-most points per game in the NBA and shoots 46.7 percent from the floor as a team, that can be a difficult task.
Bulls (now 19-23) are home for the Cavs before the trade deadline. Then:
From March 27 – April 9. 10 games in 14 days.
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) March 23, 2021
Since February, the Bulls have zero wins against teams with a winning record. They are now 0-9 in that category. However, they have beaten every matchup against teams with losing records since February, sitting 10-0 in that category.
However, they are entering a tough stretch of games this week with the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns. The Bulls remain in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings, 2.5 games ahead of the 11th place Toronto Raptors.