Submitted by National Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
NEW YORK — The Chicago Bulls lost their fourth straight game and seventh in eight games as the Brooklyn Nets came back to win 118-109 on Sunday night at Barclays Center.
“It’s difficult when you are between 5 and 13 years old. This was not what we expected. But this is reality and we have to face it,” Nikola Vucevic said. “The only way out of this is for us to stick together and try to find a way to turn the situation around. It’s not going to be easy. Our schedule isn’t going to get any easier ahead of us either. But we just have to find a way.” “We put ourselves in this situation and we are the only ones who can get us out of it.”
Here are 10 notes from the loss:
— The Bulls won the first quarter for only the fifth time in 18 games. They also overcame their recent habit of falling behind by double digits in the first quarter. In fact, they opened with a 7-0 run to force a shutout from Nets coach Jacques Vaughn. They extended the half to 13-0, 22-3 and 30-9 as their largest lead in the first. This included 8 of 10 starts from 3-point range.
“It felt great,” Zach LaVine said.
— Here was coach Billy Donovan talking about the slow start.
“We go into games sometimes to see how the game is going. I don’t think that’s a good thing,” he said. “We have to come out stronger than we have.
“Vooch and DeMar (DeRozan) won’t be speed merchants up and down the floor. But there can be more power for us. It’s not so much about us playing racehorse basketball. But there’s got to be more power and athleticism at the basket.” “There’s got to be more physicality at the point of the screen. There’s got to be more physicality on offense instead of ‘Okay.’ We’ve got to go with power. When we go down, then we come back and play with a level of intensity.”
— Alex Caruso missed his third game of the season with a strained left toe that worsened again Friday night in Toronto when Coby White inadvertently stepped on Caruso’s foot. Caruso warmed up as he attempted to make a play, but Patrick Williams started the game in Caruso’s absence.
— Williams helped the Bulls get off to a hot start by scoring 11 points in the first quarter without missing a shot. This included three 3-pointers. Williams entered every shot confidently and without hesitation. Overall, the Bulls did a good job of getting the ball inside either by passing or penetrating and then kicking to open shooters. Williams finished with 20 points.
—But the poor quarter for the Bulls came later this time. The Nets opened the second quarter on an 11-1 run, with Donovan burning two timeouts in 10 seconds. After the second, Donovan reprimanded Ayo Dosunmu, who committed a turnover, as the goalie walked to the bench.
“We created everything. They missed everything. We knew it would balance out,” Vucevic said. “We didn’t react well when that happened.”
— The Nets erased all of their 21-point first-quarter deficit by opening the second quarter with a 27-5 lead. And they were snapping a losing streak of games, although they also played at home with Saturday night’s win over the Miami Heat. However, the Bulls fell into bad habits by not getting back in transition and not rotating to open three-point shooters. Overall, the Nets outscored the Bulls 44-19 in the second set. This was only the second time since 1996-97 that an NBA team led by 20 or more players in the first quarter and trailed by 10 or more players in the second quarter.
“They went into that area,” Lavin said. “They were shooting the ball. When we were getting the ball out of the net, it slowed the game down.”
— With a 3-pointer in the second quarter, Coby White became the first player in franchise history to make four or more 3-pointers in five straight games. White has been on fire from beyond the arc lately, raising his season average to 37 percent entering the game after dipping to 25 percent to start the season. White has made 19 of 37 3-pointers over his last four games and finished 5-for-12 on Sunday.
— The Nets eclipsed the Bulls’ opponent this season on three-pointers made with 21street— At 2 minutes and 56 seconds at the third mark. The Nets entered the league ranked seventh in the league in three-pointers and fourth in three-pointers made. It’s a big part of their offensive identity. The jarring aspect was how open many of the Nets’ attempts were in the wake of the Bulls’ defensive collapses.
“We got hurt in the communication piece because of a lot of offsides,” Donovan said of the change in momentum in the first half. “Obviously there were a bunch of threes that were left wide open in terms of rotation, I dropped them.”
Zach LaVine left Mikal Bridges wide open when he rotated in to provide help Torrey Craig didn’t need. Nikola Vucevic left Spencer Dinwiddie wide open. LaVine and Dosunmu failed to communicate and rotate properly.
“A lot of it is communication. We don’t do a good enough job of communicating with each other or honoring the call when someone calls (in coverage),” Vucevic said. “Even if it’s wrong, we have to honor the person who feels it’s the right decision. We have to do a better job of being on the same page.”
LaVine said the extra help sometimes comes from a good place because players try to support each other.
“We go to the bench and talk all the time,” LaVine said. “We’re talking about it. Look at the things in the movie.”
— In fact, the Nets have made the most 3-pointers the Bulls have allowed in franchise history. The Nets finished 25-for-53 from 3-point range. Royce O’Neill and Lonnie Walker IV each sank six. Vaughn used a small lineup for most of the game and four-guard lineups often put the Bulls in scramble mode with drives, kicks, and passes on the perimeter.
— The Bulls shot 4-for-22 from 3-point range after getting off to a hot start from beyond the arc 8-for-10. DeMar DeRozan led the Bulls with 27 points. White finished with 23 points and five 3-pointers.
“The guys are professionals here. We have high morale. Obviously everyone is frustrated because we’re losing. But we support each other. We’re in the gym working every day, encouraging each other, trying to keep our morale high. All you have to do is keep our spirits high,” LaVine said. “To get over this.” “No one is going to help us do this. We understand that.
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