The Chicago Bulls‘ 1-3 West Coast road trip may not have been encouraging in the win-loss column, but the Bulls have garnered respect in the Western Conference.
Following Chicago’s 130-127 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, superstar Kawhi Leonard complimented the team that had its way with the Clippers offensively.
“Billy Donovan’s done a great job with that team over there, Zach LaVine’s been great leading the team, the rookie [Patrick Williams] played well tonight,” Leonard said. “They shot the ball great. We were there on a lot of contests.”
The Bulls played the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings to close losses and pulled off an upset of the Portland Trailblazers at the beginning of the road trip in what was a large improvement upon several blowout losses to start the season.
Chicago managed to do so shorthandedly with four players were unavailable under COVID-19 protocol in Lauri Markkanen, Ryan Arcidiacono, Chandler Hutchinson and Tomas Satoransky.
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Turnovers Plague Bulls
Zach LaVine led the charge for the Bulls against the Clippers, scoring 45 points as a result of converting 10 of 16 from three-point range, becoming the sixth player in NBA history to record multiple games with double-digit 3s. He also had seven rebounds and seven assists.
The Bulls shot 61% from the field and converted 18 of 33 from beyond the arc, but surrendered 23 turnovers, which the Clippers converted into 31 points in the loss, is what’s becoming a bane of the Bulls’ season. Chicago has turned the ball over more than any team this season, averaging 17.8 turnovers per game through 11 contests. This comes in part due to the Bulls warming up to Donovan’s motion offense.
LaVine has been an embodiment of the Bulls’ ball security struggles, ranking second in total turnovers (45) and the bottom fourth of the league in turnover percentage (15.5%).
The Bulls’ 15.4% turnover rate ranks second-to-worst in the league but have outrun those struggles by boasting the league’s third-fastest pace.
“I think we have a lot to build off, but we’re going to have to make the strides,” Donovan said following the Clippers loss. “We’re going to have to become a consistent team that takes care of the basketball, that defends without fouling and rebounds. If we can’t do those three things on a regular nightly basis it’s really, really hard to win.”
Patrick Williams Receives Praise From Leonard
Williams expressed last week that Leonard is a player he modeled his game around, specifically Leonard’s mid-post game.
“Part of the reason [Leonard] was my favorite player was because I did see a lot of similarities. I tried to pick up on things he does. I’ve been trying to do that since high school. In my year in college, I tried to do it even more,” Williams said. “I definitely see the potential that I have to be a player like him. Definitely, like, a two-way player that can get stops and then also be a reliable offensive talent. I talk a lot about being a two-way player and he’s the model of a great two-way player… It was just a blessing to be out there and play against him.”
“To talk about 11 (regular season) games, 11 starts, you’ve just got to take it for what it is. I couldn’t really think about ‘I’m thrown into the fire. I didn’t have a summer league. I barely had a preseason,’” Williams said. “You’ve just got to roll with it.”
Leonard and Paul Geoge both offered Williams some praise after the game.
“After the game, he (Leonard) just kind of told me to keep working, keep going. He kind of liked how I play,” Williams said. “Both him and Paul George gave me some good words. I will definitely hold those and just keep working like they said.”
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