The Chicago Bulls followed the same stale script Thursday in their second consecutive loss, crumbling in the second half of a 111-96 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets — who have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 14-36 — are a not a team that wins readily at the Spectrum Center. They entered the game having registered only five home victories.
The Bulls (22-26) fell to 0-2 on a three-game trip against sub-500 teams that only a few days ago appeared to be a golden opportunity to extend a winning streak and move up in the East standings. Instead, they dropped out of the playoff picture and are in 11th place.
- The Bulls continued a worrying trend of allowing leads to evaporate in the third quarter. After creating a 55-47 advantage to end the first half, the Bulls seemed set to protect that margin for the opening eight minutes of the third quarter. But that resilience melted away in the final four minutes as the Hornets went on a 10-0 run to tie the game 71-71. Although the Hornets managed to take a five-point lead, the Bulls closed the quarter with a 7-0 run to regain the lead. Alex Caruso had an offensive rebound and putback layup to secure a 79-77 margin heading into the fourth.
- All five Bulls starters reached double digits in scoring by midway through the third quarter, but that wasn’t enough. The Bulls were held under 100 points by the fourth-worst defense in the NBA despite a 28-point performance from DeMar DeRozan. Zach LaVine went 8-for-19 from the field and finished with 18 points while Nikola Vučević went 5-for-16 and scored 12. The Bulls shot 37-for-91 (40.7%) from the field overall and registered only five assists in the second half.
- This was an especially cold night of 3-point shooting for both teams. The Bulls did not make a 3-pointer in the third quarter. The Hornets missed 18 consecutive 3-point attempts in the second half. But they were able to sink a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter and finished 7 of 32 (21.9%) while the Bulls went 4-for-25 (16%) from behind the arc — registering three of their four makes in the opening quarter.
- The Bulls took a 55-47 lead into halftime behind a balanced offense, registering 11 assists on 23 makes while LaVine, DeRozan and Vučević each reached double digits in scoring. The promising start, however, was still marred by sloppy possessions and a lack of intensity on defense, which was partially bailed out by the Hornets’ poor 3-point shooting.
Quote of the game
”We’ve got to come out and be more desperate. We’re not desperate enough. Teams are coming out and playing the way we should. It’s not until we become more desperate that things are going to change. If not, it’s all going to stay the same.”
— DeMar DeRozan
Stat of the game
A lack of ball control fueled yet another second-half collapse from the Bulls, who coughed up five turnovers in the third quarter to fuel the Hornets on their run.
Goran Dragić missed the game because of a non-COVID-19 illness, but coach Billy Donovan said the backup guard is expected to meet the team in Orlando on Friday.
Where they stand
The Bulls fell to 22-26 and dropped to 11th place in the East.
The Bulls wrap up their three-game trip against the Magic at 6 p.m. Saturday in Orlando, Fla.