Even opponents of the Chicago Bulls know where their true issue lies.
“I mean, they still shot the ball pretty well,” Kawhi Leonard said via the ‘HoopJab’ channel on YouTube on March 27 when asked about facing mid-range mavens like Bulls stars DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. “We were able to get some turnovers and get out in transition and just made more threes than them. Got a lot more threes up, and made a lot more. So that’s what pretty much won the game. Because they still shot 40% from three, 50% from the field.”
The Bulls fell 124-112 on the road against the Clippers in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests with L.A. carrying a 22-point advantage into the fourth quarter. Chicago’s efficiency got a bit of a boost from them hitting two of their four threes in the final frame.
Take those out, and they shot 5-for-19 from beyond the arc (36%) while still only getting up only three more attempts from deep than L.A. made.
It’s been a season-long issue.
DeRozan and LaVine combined for 44 points on 53.3% shooting from the floor. To Leonard’s point, they went 2-for-6 from three-point range combined with both makes coming, perhaps shockingly, from DeRozan. Typically an effective marksman, LaVine went 0-for-2 failing to sink a three for just the fifth time this season.
Conversely, DeRozan is not known for his deep shooting but is sinking 46.7% from deep over the last eight games.
Leonard’s remarks about turnovers certainly hit the mark as well.
DeMar DeRozan Echoes Kawhi Leonard
“We turned the ball over, we let them get in transition, we had too many transition points given up,” DeRozan said postgame via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. “The first half, turned the ball over too many times. We just didn’t have good enough possessions offensively consistently enough to hang in there. Especially with them shooting the way that they shot. We just didn’t give ourselves a chance at no point of the game. Hats off to him – them. They hit 20-plus threes. Once that happens, it’s tough to beat anybody.”
The Bulls’ top duo had six of the team’s 14 giveaways with LaVine accounting for four by himself. That is not an overly-high number – they have that many or more in 32 games this season.
But they committed 10 of the 14 giveaways in the second and third quarters after stalking themselves to a five-point lead after the opening frame.
DeRozan was most upset about their lack of defense on the Clippers’ shooters.
“We was a step slow with everything,” DeRozan said. “Either we was helping in, and they was finding guys kicking it out or vice versa. We didn’t make guys put the ball on the floor. They got shots off and they got a rhythm, they start knocking them down.”
“They set the tone tonight, offensively, making shots,” Leonard said. “This is what we’re going to have to do if [Paul George] is out. It just opens up the floor.
Kawhi Leonard Gets Honest About Patrick Beverley
There was not as much fanfare over Bulls guard Patrick Beverley’s “return” to L.A. to face one of his old teams as there was the night before when it was the Lakers. Things did not go as well for the outspoken Beverley in this one.
“I mean it’s fine, just because I know him personally,” Leonard said of facing off against Beverley, a former teammate on the 2019-20 Clippers. “He’s been here, we know what he’s about. And, like I said, it’s just fine competing against him. He’s a competitor. He wants to win every matchup whether it’s guarding someone or if he’s attacking someone on the offensive end.”
Beverley had nine points, two assists, two steals, and one block but, like LaVine, was missing a staple of his game as a Bull – rebounding – failing to grab even one for the first time.
Despite the loss, the Bulls return home to face a revenge-seeking Lakers squad having gone 2-1 on this road trip and are 10-6 since the All-Star break with a relatively strong grip on the 10-seed in the Eastern Conference.