CHICAGO – So much for any kind of momentum that might have come in the 48 hours leading up to the Bulls’ first game in 2019 where they had a shot for two-straight wins.
Atlanta dealt a quick punch to those hopes early, and yet another rout was on for Jim Boylen’s team during the 2018-2019 season.
For the ninth time in the coach’s tenure with the team, the Bulls lost a game by 17 or more points. This time it was the Hawks who used a big first quarter to set the tone of a 121-101 win at the United Center that hands the Bulls their 37th loss of the season in 48 games.
Wednesday marked the moment when the Bulls have had as many games coached by Fred Hoiberg as they have by Boylen. Right now the latter (6-18) is just a bit better than the former (5-19), yet many of the margins of defeat remain staggering.
It was a 42 point first quarter that put the Bulls in a hole they could never quite climb out of against an Atlanta team that’s also going through a rebuild. Even though the Hawks only improved their record to 15-32, they looked a few steps ahead of the Bulls the entire night in another blowout.
John Collins led the offensive push for the visitors, shooting 14-of-16 from the field and scoring 35 points, while Atlanta did they work on the offensive glass, besting the Bulls 16-7 in that category. Zach LaVine did get the lead down to six with a hoop with 2:09 to go in the third, but the Bulls had no answer after that as they were outscored 34-20 the rest of the way.
The final deficit was 20, marking the seventh time in the Boylen era that the team has lost by that amount or more. On three other occasions, the deficits were by 30 or more, which included the debacle at the United Center on December 8th when the Bulls lost to the Celtics by a club record 56 points.
Here are those games which the Boylen-led Bulls have lost by 17 or more points this season:
December 8th – vs Celtics – 56 Points
December 10th – vs Kings – 19 Points
December 17th – at Thunder – 25 Points
December 26th – vs Timberwolves – 25 Points
January 2nd – vs Magic – 28 Points
January 6th – vs Nets – 17 Points
January 11th – at Warriors – 37 Points
January 17th – at Nuggets – 30 Points
January 23rd – vs Hawks – 20 Points
Overall the Bulls have 11 games in which they’ve lost by double digits. In Hoiberg’s 24 games this season, they lost nine games by ten-or-more points.
It’s a bad trend that hasn’t been fixed under a new regime, though th
“I judge this thing on how we practice and how we play, I don’t judge it on what we lose by,” said Boylen. “We can win by 20 at Cleveland, or whatever it was – 16, 14. I thought we made mistakes with 18 turnovers and we didn’t play very well.
“So I’m not judging everything on the final score. Obviously, that’s important, and we’d like to win games, of course, but that’s not what is on my mind.”
Instead, he’s trying to think of ways to push the right buttons with this group to prevent bad losses like Wednesday in the future.