Lopez ejection, bad finish lead to a seventh-straight loss for the Bulls
SACRAMENTO – As the final game before the trade deadline, there is a chance that the Bulls team on the floor Monday night at the Golden 1 Center won’t look the same as the one that takes the floor Friday against the Timberwolves at the United Center.
With the NBA Trade Deadline set for Thursday afternoon, and the Bulls eyes focused on a rebuild, a few of the regular veteran contributors could be headed out-of-town in the next few days.
One of those guys may be Robin Lopez.
The seven-foot center could prove valuable for a contending team in the playoffs, leaving him as one of the Bulls could trade for a youngster or even draft picks. Should that be the case, he probably would have hoped for a more graceful exit in more ways than one.
Not only was Lopez thrown out of the game after back-to-back technical fouls in the second quarter, had to be led off the court by Bulls coaches, but the team squandered a 16-point lead the rest of the way. The Kings, who are in their own rebuild and, in some ways, race for the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, finished strong in a 104-98 victory on Monday night.
It’s the seventh-straight defeat for the Bulls as they completed the three-game West Coast road swing without a win. Now two days remain until the trade deadline, the Bulls are just two games better than the Atlanta Hawks, who currently own the best record in the NBA.
Most Bulls fans in favor of “tanking” consider that a good thing, but Monday was a sour day in Sacramento. Leading 28-9 after the first quarter and then by 21 early in the second, the Kings began cutting into the lead when Lopez became unhappy with a referee’s call on the offensive end with just under five minutes left.
Called foul on a later possession, Lopez was hit with a technical foul for arguing with the referee. He continued to get angry, approached the referee and waved a finger while getting restrained by teammates.
Lopez got another technical and was ejected, needing more help from the coaching staff before he finally went back to the locker room.
Zach LaVine, who finished with a season-high 27 points, pushed the lead back to 15 late in the first half with a dunk and foul. But it was downhill after that as the Kings outscored the Bulls by 12 in the third quarter and then grabbed the lead in the fourth quarter.
After going back-and-fourth in the final six minutes, the Kings took the lead for good on a Bogdan Bogdanovich three-pointer with 56 seconds left. The Bulls would only get as close as three points the rest of the way as Sacramento snapped a two-game losing streak of their own.
It’s a dim ending to what could be the current group of Bulls as they are, especially the guy who didn’t even get to see it come to an end.