The Chicago Bulls did it again on Friday night. They carried a sizable lead deep into the second half and somehow found a way to blow it.
Chicago took the 131-127 defeat on the road against the Denver Nuggets, and it was the second straight crushing loss against a Western Conference team after leading big.
The Bulls had a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Jamal Murray drained a clutch three-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining to force overtime.
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The Nuggets jumped out to a lead in the extra session to see the Bulls fight back but still fall four points short. As you can see from this tweet from NBC Sports’ Kevin Anderson, this is just another link in the Bulls’ disturbing chain of defeats.
After 670 The Score’s Cody Westerlund asked Bulls head coach Billy Donovan how worried he was about his team’s spirit after blowing so many leads. Donovan got philosophical on us.
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Donovan said, “We play like a self-fulfilling prophecy,” during the post-game media session. This was a particularly telling comment. Donovan talked about the Bulls adopting the “oh no, here we go again” mentality as they begin to fall apart.
It’s almost as if they expect to blow leads, and their negative energy manifests the horrible results. That’s a leadership problem that goes beyond Donovan because it pre-dates him. It’s about the absence of a true floor general or a low-post threat who can take some pressure off Zach LaVine.
Donovan also offered, “it can’t be self-inflicted wounds on a regular basis.”
Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were phenomenal on Friday. They combined for 68 points, 17 rebounds, and 14 assists. Murray made the two biggest shots of the game.
However, as good as both of those guys were, the Bulls lost this game because of their own mistakes.
Coby White’s poor shot selection early in the fourth quarter and yet another egregious fouling of a three-point shooter was a part of it. Wendell Carter Jr’s hapless defensive rotation forced him to the bench for the entire overtime. Lauri Markkanen’s general lack of toughness.
Two boneheaded offensive fouls from Tomas Satoransky after hand-off passes and an ill-advised forced transition situation led to a pass to White, who was standing out of bounds.
Even LaVine had an inexcusable miscue when he had his pocket picked clean in the middle of the floor by scrappy 29-year-old rookie Facundo Campozzo with just over one minute left in the game and the Bulls up three. This one was hard to watch.
‘My Heart Bleeds For Them’
Usually calm and collected, Donovan was visually frustrated with yet another collapse, but he still felt for his young team. He said, “my heart bleeds for them.”
At this point, the Bulls have to seriously consider dumping all of the players from the previous regime, besides LaVine. Carter Jr, Markkanen, and White are often the major culprits in the self-fulfilling prophecy.
Thad Young has been great, but he’s too old for the core. Chicago would be better off moving forward with LaVine and Williams as the only untouchables. That might be the only thing that helps Donovan keep his sanity.
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