Bulls were trending up in 3-point shooting until Saturday

Whether you watch Bulls games or just look at the box scores, it's been obvious that 3-point shooting is not a strength.

The Bulls hit a low point in Saturday's loss to Houston, hitting just 4 of 32 from long range. The Rockets made 19 of 44.

"We lost the 3-point line by 45 points," coach Jim Boylen said after the game. "It's hard to win a game when you do that."

When Boylen was asked if it's time to reconsider the shot distribution, he gave a firm, "definitely not." As of Sunday morning, the Bulls ranked 11th in 3-point attempts per game (34.7) and 26th in 3-point percentage (.314).

Two of the three players with the most 3-point attempts are shooting less than 30 percent - Lauri Markkanen at 27.9 and rookie Coby White at 21.2.

"I wouldn't be worried about that," Markkanen said. "I know how well we can shoot and tonight it's just we didn't make them. We can't lose our edge on the (defensive) end just because we're not making shots."

A closer look at the box scores does reveal how the Bulls seemed to be on the right track, up until the brickfest against Houston.

After starting the season with four games of shooting 30 percent or below from 3-point range, the Bulls connected on 36 percent or better in four of the next five games. During that five-game stretch, the Bulls shot 38.2 percent from 3-point range, which ranked ninth in the league.

So maybe there is hope for the Bulls' 3-point shooting game. During the hot streak, Tomas Satoransky made 9 of 13 shots from long range, while Otto Porter hit 12 of 21. Porter missed the Houston game with a left foot sprain.

Even Markkanen was better, shooting 41.4 percent from long range over those five games. Zach LaVine was at 41.2 percent.

Just like everything else with the Bulls this season, the jury is out on their 3-point shooting ability. The players farthest below their career 3-point percentage are Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Luke Kornet.

"They made shots in the third and we didn't," Boylen said Saturday. "That's what happened. All the clouds are cleared away now. That's what happened. So to come in here and think I'm going to change my system or change what we've been doing, it's not what I'm about."

The Bulls did play well in the first half against Houston, trailing 50-49 at intermission despite going 2-for-17 from long range. On the heels of a 20-point win in Atlanta and three quarters of outplaying the Lakers, maybe it's a sign the Bulls are making progress. They are back in action Tuesday against New York at the United Center.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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Here's how the Bulls' current 3-point percentages compare to career averages:

Players 2019-20 Career

Zach LaVine .359 .373

Lauri Markkanen .279 .355

Otto Porter .400 .405

Coby White .212 .212

Thad Young .342 .329

Tomas Satoransky .458 .404

Kris Dunn .133 .314

Luke Kornet .217 .349


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