LaVine back, both coaches ejected simultaneously while Bulls lose to Clippers
The Bulls put their starting lineup back together Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The question was whether they'd be able to get back to their post-trade level, when Lauri Markkanen was getting 20 and 10 every night, Otto Porter Jr. couldn't miss from long range and Zach LaVine found open lanes to the rim. Those Bulls won 7 of their first 10 games with Porter in uniform.
LaVine returned Friday at the Staples Center after missing the previous two games with a sore right knee. He looked fresh while scoring 31 points, but the Bulls dropped their fourth straight, losing to the Clippers 128-121.
This game featured a very unusual turn of events with 1:14 left in the third quarter when both head coaches were ejected simultaneously. Bulls coach Jim Boylen and Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a Maywood native, were barking at each other after Clippers center Montrezl Harrell was whistled for an illegal screen against Shaq Harrison near midcourt.
Late in the first half, Harrell set a similar screen against Ryan Arcidiacono, who didn't see it coming. Arcidiacono got the worst of the collision, went to the floor hard and didn't return to the game in the second half.
When Harrell was called for the foul in the third quarter, Boylen seemed to be still upset with the screen on Arcidiacono and may have offered some choice words for Rivers. It didn't last long, as both coaches received double technical fouls and were sent off the court. Boylen made a point to slap hands with every Bulls player on the court and bench before heading out of the tunnel.
The Bulls actually led 63-57 at halftime, but came back with a terrible third quarter. The Clippers scored 45 points in the third and outscored the Bulls by 24 points. It was the most points given up by the Bulls in a quarter all season, but the fourth straight game where they've given up at least 40 in the third quarter.
The Clippers' lead reached 18 points early in the fourth quarter. The Bulls hung close enough for replacement coach Pete Myers to send the starters back in, but they never made a serious run.
Besides losing Arcidiacono for the second half, starting point guard Kris Dunn picked up his fifth foul at the 8:33 mark of the third quarter. That left Harrison to play the point for a long stretch. Dunn got off to a good start on Friday, scoring 11 of his 14 points in the first half.
Markkanen was slow to get going, producing 10 points and 8 rebounds Friday. Boylen talked before the game about how Markkanen could snap his recent slump.
"I want him to continue to drive the ball. I don't want him to settle for catch and shoot threes," Boylen said. "If he's open, great. If not, I want him to drive, be aggressive going to the rim. But what I have asked him to do which gets him going is rebounding the ball. When he rebounds the ball it gets him going. That's what he needs to do."
Center Robin Lopez was one of the bright spots for the Bulls. With his mother watching from the seats, the Fresno, Calif., native posted 22 points and 8 rebounds. Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 27 points, while Harrell finished with 26
Boylen had nice things to say about Rivers before the game. The Clippers traded leading scorer Tobias Harris to Philadelphia on Feb. 6, but have gone 10-5 since then and took command of the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference.
"He's done an amazing job," Boylen said. "He's got a team that has bought into the way he wants to play. He was a tough, physical player; that's what he has. I think he should be in the coach of the year conversation, him and (Indiana's) Nate McMillan. Guys who have had injuries and made trades and done a heck of a job."