LaVine again states his case, but Chicago Bulls' losing streak grows
The Bulls survived a few injuries this season. But losing Kris Dunn to a right-knee sprain seems to have done permanent damage to their defense.
Despite 41 points from Zach LaVine, the Bulls couldn't keep up with the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night. Their losing streak stretched to six in a row with a 126-114 loss at Capital One Arena.
The Bulls (19-36) head into the all-star break hoping to be healthier when the schedule resumes Feb. 20. Realistically, though, center Wendell Carter Jr. is the only injured starter who seems on the verge of returning to the court.
"We've got to keep pounding the rock, man," Bulls coach Jim Boylen told reporters after the game. "We've got to keep trying to play competitive basketball, limit our turnovers, limit our poor spurts and keep developing these guys. We're trying to develop and win and we'll keep working at that. Nobody's hanging their head."
LaVine had another strong offensive performance, hitting 8 of 11 shots from 3-point range and 15 of 21 overall. He also pulled down a team-high 9 rebounds.
The Bulls trailed by 18 points heading into the fourth quarter. When LaVine hit back-to-back jumpers, the second one from nearly 30 feet, they were within 103-95 with 6:49 left.
The Bulls had two possessions trailing by 8, but former Wizards guard Tomas Satoransky missed a pair of 3-pointers - one was an open look and the other a forced shot where he thought he could draw a foul.
Eventually, the Bulls got as close as 114-108 after another LaVine 3 with 1:54 left. But Wizards guard Ish Smith drained a 3-pointer on the next trip and that was the end.
LaVine, still smarting from his All-Star Game snub, scored 19 points in the fourth quarter.
"I think Zach made his point tonight with 41 points and the effort he played with," Boylen said. "He's a big shot-maker, I think he understands the moment. He's a crunchtime guy."
Since Dunn went out 13 seconds into the game at Brooklyn on Jan. 31, the Bulls' defense has dropped to one of the worst in the league. Washington poses some especially tough matchup problems with lightning-quick point guard Smith and high-scoring shooting guard Bradley Beal. Neither LaVine nor Satoransky is a great individual defender, giving those guys room to break down the Bulls' defense and set up open shots.
The Wizards ended up with seven players in double figures, led by Beal with 30 and rookie forward Rui Hachimura with 20. The Bulls also coughed up 22 turnovers, led by Thad Young with 6.
"I thought it took too long to get our defensive legs underneath us," Boylen said. "The combination of our turnovers and our inability to keep the ball in front of us in a one-on-one situation hurt us."
The Bulls did manage to hold Washington scoreless for nearly five minutes in the fourth quarter as they made their comeback. It seemed to help when rookie Coby White (14 points) was on the floor with LaVine and Satoransky (19 points, 8 assists) to combat the Wizards' quickness.
During the first three quarters, though, Washington scored 100 points and shot 56 percent from the field.
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