Money can pay fines but can’t buy wins, as Bulls fall to the Kings

SACRAMENTO – The fine coming from the technical foul on Sunday is loose couch change for Zach LaVine.

The Bulls guard was well aware of that, fresh off an offseason in which he was given a max contract of $215 million over the next five years.

“I’ll pay the tech fine … it ain’t hurting me,” LaVine said.

The third-straight loss and dropping to 9-14 on the season after losing to the Kings 110-101? LaVine’s money can’t change that. And for the two-time All-Star that’s where the real hurt was.

“We gotta figure it out one way or the other, or we’re going to keep being down,” LaVine said. “We’ve got urgency. We talk to each other every day, we’ve got pride. It’s just going out there and executing it. We’ve got to find a rhythm out there.”

Even in a game in which LaVine finished with 41 points and helped hold the Kings under their usual scoring average, it’s that overall rhythm that remained the issue.

And once again, it was a very familiar blueprint. A blueprint that coach Billy Donovan can’t fully explain, but would love nothing more than to see get crumpled up, and set ablaze in a nearby trash can.

Out-shot from three-point range? Check.

The Kings put up 15 threes in that opening stanza to the Bulls’ nine, and by halftime, Sacramento (13-9) widened that gap, going 10-of-30 from three compared to the Bulls at 5-for-11.

Careless with the basketball? Check.

Eleven turnovers in the second quarter alone, as the Kings scored 16 points off of them. The one saving grace was the Bulls also had some busy hands on the defensive end that first half, leading to 13 Sacramento turnovers and 10 points.

And the most damning one, digging a big hole early on? Check.

That disparity in long-range shooting, as well as the carelessness with the ball, saw the home team build a second-quarter lead to as high as 18 points.

“We’re coming [back] from like 19 and 20 points,” Donovan said of the on-going issues in falling behind teams. “It’s hard to come back like that.

“We’ve got to do a better job of making decisions against closeouts. I think that would impact the three-point line. There’s times where guys are catching the ball, and we can shoot it. It would help us get more threes up.

“The attention to detail, the consistency part, I think those things become critically important.”

It finally did against the Kings, but not until the second half. Like they also have done so many times this season, and throughout most of the 2-4 six-game road trip, the Bulls staged a really nice comeback.

First there was a LaVine three-pointer, then came a DeMar DeRozan mid-range. By the time the third quarter ended, the deficit was just four points, as the Bulls outscored Sacramento 31-20 in the stanza.

They even got to within a basket in the fourth, but those details again went out the nearest exit. LaVine wasn’t the only reason why by any means, but his stood out.

There was a careless foul to put the Kings in the penalty, and then of course the technical foul with 2:32 left and a 10-point deficit at the time.

No wonder LaVine stormed off the court as the final horn was just sounding, going by his teammates without a high-five, and right into the locker room.

“I’ve been frustrated before,” LaVine said. “I’m trying to get myself going. Sometimes that carries over when you care a lot. Sometimes your emotions come out.

“It’s us vs. everybody, no one is going to help us dig out of this besides us. That’s how we’ve got to go about it.”

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