Robin Lopez shines, but the Bulls don’t in loss to the Knicks
NEW YORK – It’s rare in an NBA game to need a roster just to help you pick out the starters. But when it comes to two of the NBA’s worst teams, it’s almost a necessity.
That’s especially true for the Bulls, who are literally limping towards the finish of the NBA season.
Against the Knicks on Monday, the Bulls once again were without Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Otto Porter Jr.. With Lauri Markkanen already out held out for the rest of the season, Walter Lemon Jr., Shaq Harrison, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Wayne Selden were part of the starting five.
Oh, and former G-League Windy City Bulls players Rawly Alkins, JaKarr Sampson, and Brandon Sampson made up a big portion of the team’s bench.
Yet the one regular who actually suited up for the Bulls on Monday did what he could to keep his team close, or at least, competitive. In fact, it was his best offensive effort of the season, as Robin Lopez went for 29 points in 30 minutes of action, all of which came on his birthday.
Those efforts still weren’t enough for the very short-handed Bulls even against the struggling Knicks, who led the majority of the game in a 113-105 victory that snapped their six-game losing streak. Meanwhile, Jim Boylen’s squad continues their slide as the suit up a number of new players down the stretch, losing their fifth consecutive game and falling to 21-57 on the season.
For the many keeping track, the loss did pull the Bulls within a game-and-a-half of the Cavaliers for the third-worst record in the league with four games left to play.
While maybe overlooked for the potential gain in NBA Lottery odds, Lopez’s effort was worth noting on Monday. The center, who celebrated his 31st birthday, hit 12-of-18 shots from the floor and hit 5-of-8 from the free throw line. A dunk with 1:50 left finished off his best point effort of the season, topping the 26 points he had on 10-of-16 shooting against the Bucks on February 25th.
At the very least, it gave some Bulls’ fans something to recognize in a stretch where a number of things are quite different.