Even at full strength, Bulls lose to Pacers
The Bulls reached a milestone of sorts on Sunday. With Chandler Hutchison active, they had every player on the roster healthy and available for the game at Indiana.
That sort of good health hasn't happened in maybe a couple of years. The Pacers, meanwhile, were without center Myles Turner (ankle), forward Domantas Sabonis (calf) and all-star Victor Oladipo (still recovering from last season's quad injury).
So a nice advantage for the Bulls, right?
Actually, it wasn't.
The Bulls got off to a sluggish start, never got closer than 8 points in the second half and lost 108-95 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"It's tough. We've got to win games that we're supposed to win," Zach LaVine told reporters in the locker room. "They had three of their starters out. They came in and they played harder than us and they kicked our butt. It's simple.
"We're just not there yet. We have really good spurts and then we get a loss and I don't know what the heck goes on. We've got to clean it up. It's simple, though, we've got to outplay our opponent."
LaVine led the Bulls (2-5) with 21 points. Center Wendell Carter Jr. had a nice game, with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while hitting 9 of 10 shots.
Otherwise, besides Thad Young's usual good effort, there wasn't a lot working for the Bulls. Otto Porter Jr. hit 1 of 10 shots for 4 points and 3 rebounds. He injured his ankle at one point, but kept playing.
Lauri Markkanen finished with 11 points and 6 rebounds. Overall, Porter and Markkanen were outplayed pretty badly by Indiana's T.J. Warren (26 points) and T.J. Leaf (13 points, 15 rebounds).
"That's the first first quarter we've lost in three games," coach Jim Boylen said after the game. "I think that shows you where we were at to start the game. I thought in the second half the ball moved better and we were kind of who we needed to be."
Hutchison didn't play Sunday. He practiced with his teammates for the first time Saturday after recovering from a hamstring injury suffered in early September.
Rookie Coby White went 0-for-6 from the field Sunday and scored 1 point. In the past five games after his fast start, White has averaged 6.2 points, shot 24.5 percent overall and 18.2 percent from 3-point range.
At the start of the game, the Bulls seemed to be emphasizing screen-and-rolls and getting to the basket. That worked for a few possessions, but they had trouble finishing near the rim. In the first half, the Bulls were 14-for-27 on shots in the paint.
"I don't think we've made the shots that I think we can make," Boylen said. "I thought tonight we had some good ones that we didn't make again and I'm hoping that turns for us.
"I thought we got stripped a bunch of times in the paint. Maybe they're fouls, maybe they're not, but we've got to be stronger with it. We talked about that at halftime. There's defensive toughness, but there's offensive toughness too. I thought we were lacking at both ends tonight."
The competition will only get tougher for the Bulls, who host the Lakers and Rockets this week at the United Center.