Chicago Bulls open preseason with sloppy loss to Milwaukee
If anyone wandered into the United Center on Monday night looking for reasons to be optimistic about the coming Chicago Bulls' season, they didn't find many.
The Bulls gave up a ton of points, were pounded on the boards and shot just 37.8 percent from the field. The visiting Milwaukee Bucks used just one usual starter (Brook Lopez) and still handled the Bulls 122-112 in the preseason opener for both sides.
"What you hope to learn in a game like this is the things you need to work on," coach Jim Boylen said.
That list is fairly long. This is Boylen's first training camp as head coach, the Bulls are trying to work a number of new players into the lineup, and at times it was a confused mess.
The best news for the Bulls was relatively efficient scoring games by Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen. Both shot less than 50 percent from the field, but they combined to knock down 7 of 14 attempts from 3-point range.
LaVine scored 16 points in 22 minutes and led the Bulls with 5 assists. Markkanen had 14 points in 23 minutes.
Most everyone else had some ups and downs. Newcomer Tomas Satoransky scored just 2 points but led the Bulls with 7 rebounds and was credited with 5 steals. Denzel Valentine, back after missing all of last season with an ankle injury, drained a couple of early 3-pointers but finished the night hitting just 3 of 12 shots.
"The 38 3-point attempts is good for us. The 38 free-throw attempts is good for us," Boylen said. "Twelve turnovers playing fast, I think is good for us. We forced 25 turnovers. We've been talking about hands and deflections, I thought we did a pretty good job.
"Where we struggled and where they exploited us was our individual 1-on-1 defense. They spread us out, which they do to everybody, and they drove us. And it's great, because now the film shows what we've been talking about, that that's a big area of improvement for us, and that's a good thing."
Rookie guard Coby White did some good things, finishing with 12 points, 1 assist and 2 turnovers, while hitting 3 of 10 shots. Second-round pick Daniel Gafford showed some good energy, finishing with 12 points and 3 blocks. Both White and Gafford shot 8 free throws, tying for team high.
"I was kind of nervous. First-game jitters happens to everyone," White said. "I could have played better. Obviously, I've got high expectations for myself and whatnot, but I could have played better. Both ends of the floor.
"I just feel like I could have made a couple better decisions. I had 2 turnovers that I could have made better decisions on, being aware of the defense."
The Bucks added insult to injury by starting both Lopez twins, Robin and Brook. Robin, of course, spent three seasons with the Bulls, then floated north to Milwaukee as a free agent this summer.
Playing together for the first time since their college careers ended at Stanford in 2008, the Lopez brothers combined for 27 points and 10 assists. The Bucks' bench responded enthusiastically to Robin's first "tea party" celebration after hitting a 3-pointer.
Robin Lopez was Milwaukee's leading scorer with 14 points, matching guard Frank Mason.
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