SAN ANTONIO – It had the feel of a new era with four of the Bulls’ five players acquired at the trade deadline making the debut with the team on Saturday.
Nikola Vucevic, an All-Star acquired from the Magic, would start while Al-Farouq Aminu, Troy Brown Jr., and Javonte Green would all see action off the bench. Only Daniel Theis, who was joining the team from the Celtics, wasn’t ready to suit up.
While these new players certainly added a new feel to the team, their presence didn’t translate into a victory. In fact, the contest was pretty much one-sided from the start.
Down by 13 after the first quarter, the Bulls would spend most of the night chasing San Antonio at the AT&T Center, trailing by as many as 36 points. Incredibly, behind Vucevic, the Bulls would rally to get the lead under double digits briefly before running out of steam.
The 120-104 loss is a bit of a disappointment yet a performance that might not have been a surprise considering the new players had little time for adjustment.
Vucevic did his part, however, leading the team with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting to go along with a Bulls-high nine rebounds. It was his three-pointer with 5:13 to go that got the Bulls to within nine, and incredible feat considering they were down by 36 with just a few minutes left in the third.
But San Antonio, who put seven in double figures, went up by double-digits again on the next possession, finishing with a 16-point win that drops the Bulls to 19-25.
Brown was the other player in the new group that had a productive night, scoring eight points while dishing out three assists in 14 minutes. Aminu collected five rebounds and two points in 12 minutes of work while Green grabbed four rebounds and two blocks in ten minutes of action.