Bulls can’t get the finish right in a strong effort against the reigning NBA champion Lakers

Bulls

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 8: Wendell Carter Jr. #34 of the Chicago Bulls dunks the ball during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on January 8, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES – For a team that’s produced more positive vibes over the past two weeks, this would have been a win to remember.

On the road against the reigning NBA Champions, the Bulls had their crack at winning their biggest game so far in their young 2020-2021 season. Down by one with the basketball in the closing seconds, they had the Anthony Davis-less Lakers within reach.

Unfortunately, they were missing that finishing touch, as a building team was forced to settle with a moral victory instead of a significant one early in 2021.

Zach LaVine’s potential go-ahead shot with 4.7 seconds left wouldn’t go, and rookie Patrick Williams couldn’t get his hands on the subsequent offensive board as it went out of bounds. After first getting the ball and running from defenders before finally getting fouled with .5 left, Dennis Schroder hit one free throw to finish a 117-155 victory.

It was a near monumental victory that could have been a major confidence building for a group that’s finding at least some stride in this West Coast road trip. Instead, it’s the group’s second-straight close loss that drops their record to 4-6.

LaVine’s miss was a bad ending to a productive night as he led all scorers with 38 points on 14-of-22 shooting with four three-pointers. He scored 21 in the first half as the Bulls took a one-point advantage into half and were within to at the end of the third.

Even when the Bulls fell behind by 12 in the fourth, LaVine scored nine in the fourth quarter to get his team back in it, but it just wasn’t quite enough.

Perhaps this game can serve as another builder of confidence for the group that’s been more competitive after getting blown out badly in their opening two games at home. It should especially serve that purpose for Wendell Carter Jr., who scored a season-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting with seven rebounds in 25 minutes.

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