The immediate aftermath of a sporting event can be filled with emotion which is just one part of why teams are afforded a few minutes to decompress and allow cooler heads to prevail. That can often result in a certain level of clarity and honesty from players.
Losers of four straight at one point, the Chicago Bulls (14-19)had been spending their postgames trying to explain their inconsistency as they dropped one game after another.
A three-game winning streak seemed to signal a change for the better but did not last.
It was snapped, eradicated really, in a 133-118 loss to the rebuilding Houston Rockets; owners of the Western Conference’s worst record for the second year in a row. After the game, it was a similar story, the Bulls offering up reasons for their unsightly demise. But this time it also came with a rather stunning admission from Zach LaVine.
LaVine: Bulls Took Rockets ‘For Granted’
“We came out a little bit lackadaisical,” LaVine said per Chicago sports reporter Daniel Greenberg. “Took a team for granted and you can’t do that in the NBA.”
That is a troubling admission indeed for a Bulls team that sits 11th in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls have a losing record in December at 5-7 even with their three-game run. And their record against sub-.500 teams has replaced poor showings against top-shelf competition last year as the team’s biggest bugaboo.
Chicago has now gone 3-8 against teams with losing records this season after going 24-9 last year, notes Kevin Anderson of NBC Sports Chicago.
That was a noticeable pause to a question that does put the spotlight on the coaches as much as the players.
“They came out playing harder than us,” LaVine said, per Sam Smith of NBA.com. “We tried to come back and compete; offensively we didn’t do terrible. We just didn’t do a good job defensively. One guy got confidence and the rest got confidence.”
LaVine was a main focus of the contention in the locker room according to a report from Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times and later confirmed by K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago both of whom were following up a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic of multiple Bulls team meetings including some 1-on-1 sessions between LaVine and DeMar DeRozan.
They shrugged those off as healthy discussions and the immediate results were encouraging.
LaVine has started to look more like his old self and, most importantly, the team got some much-needed wins.
“They put their talents on display and you give them confidence and they don’t know any better; they just keep going,” LaVine said of the young Rockets. “It’s frustrating (for us), but we’ve got to get ready to play another good team coming up. We can’t play like this again.”
Teams Still Eyeing LaVine
LaVine finished with 22 points, five assists, and three rebounds. He did not commit a single turnover in the game marking just the fourth time he has done so this season. In one of the least surprising developments, rival teams continue to monitor the two-time All-Star, reported Charania during an appearance on Fanduel’s “Run It Back”.
Amid speculation that he wanted out of Chicago – Charania’s initial report stated LaVine and the Bulls were “not seeing eye to eye” – LaVine pushed back.
“If I had something to say about the team, it would come from my mouth,” LaVine said of the report. “I feel good about the team. “Obviously, we’re frustrated because we’ve lost some games.”
Those feelings, which fans hoped had started to die down, are surely back now.