CHICAGO – If you bought into the hype and believed as much as you could in the product that the team was touting for the 2019-2020, then Tuesday night was all you could have hoped for in the first 36 minutes.
They were playing reasonably strong defense, hitting their three-pointers while making their way up court against one of the best teams in the NBA during this young season. It was as if the Bulls, for one night at least, were going to be all the franchise advertised them to be this season.
But remember, 36 isn’t 48 minutes, and in those 12 minutes the Bulls looked like the team fans have frustratingly grown accustomed to seeing the past few years and early in this campaign.
Up by 13 points heading into the fourth quarter, the Bulls collapsed in arguably their worst quarter of the season. They allowed 16-straight points to start the fourth quarter, all with their starters on the bench, all but two coming with LeBron James on the bench for Los Angeles.
When he returned, the Bulls were pretty much finished, with the Lakers building the lead to as much as 12 before finishing with a 118-112 victory at the United Center on Tuesday evening.
Jim Boylen watched his team get outscored 38-19 in the fourth quarter that took away the chance for an early signature win and dropped them to 2-6 on the young season. For fans, it adds another forgettable moment in a difficult start to the season.
That’s a shame, too, because one could argue the first three quarters were the team’s best of the season.
With Zach LaVine (team-high 26 points) and Coby White (18 points) leading the charge, the Bulls broke the game in their favor in the second quarter and led by as many as 17. They didn’t let up in the third either as the lead reached 18 points as late as 4:48 in the third quarter, as a solid Bulls’ defense caused problems for the 5-1 Lakers. Going into the fourth quarter, they were in position to potentially hold an opponent under 100 points for the first time.
Not gonna happen.
Kyle Kuzma started the quarter with seven-straight points then Dwight Howard added back-to-back hoops of his own as the Bulls went cold from the field. Quinn Cook’s three-pointer just 3:02 into the final quarter gave the Lakers a lead. During this time Boylen elected to keep his starters on the bench, a decision that he defended after that game, saying that he would have done the same again.
By the time the Bulls’ starters returned, so did James, and that would be the end. He’d give the Lakers their biggest lead of the night when hit a jumper with 4:19 left to put Los Angeles up by 12.
It was a brutal end to what could have been a rare beautiful night for the Bulls early in this season – a dream performance that fell back to reality in 12 minutes.