Bulls take extra day of rest, lose badly to Boston
The Bulls weren't able to deal with the Lakers on the second leg of back-to-back games.
But the tables were turned on Monday at the United Center. Boston was playing for the second straight night, while the Bulls were coming off a day of rest.
And it was pretty much the same result. The Bulls were overwhelmed at the start of both halves and lost to the Celtics 119-103 at the United Center.
Veteran forward Thaddeus Young tried to keep the Bulls competitive. He finished with 16 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds, but there was only so much he could do.
Celtics stars Jaylen Brown (26 points) and Jayson Tatum (24) scored at will against the Bulls defense. On the other side, the Bulls piled up 19 turnovers. So even though the Bulls shot well (44 percent from 3-point range) and dished out 28 assists, they couldn't stay with the Celtics. The Bulls trailed by single digits for a grand total of 14 seconds in the second half.
"I thought we were careless in a lot of instances," coach Billy Donovan said. "It's a trend with us. Certainly a good number of games, it's 18 turnovers. We're just not going to win doing that. It's hard to just give a team 35 points off turnovers. I actually liked the way we played on offense, I thought we generated good looks."
The key sequence was the start of the third quarter. The Bulls trailed 60-50 at halftime, still within striking distance if they could start quickly. Instead, the Celtics smashed their faces into the snow, opening the second half with a 14-2 run.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 30 points and Lauri Markkanen added 18. The Bulls bench nearly outscored the starters, though, finishing with a 55-48 split.
The Bulls (7-10) played their third straight game without center Wendell Carter Jr., who suffered a bruised quad practice last week. His replacement, Daniel Gafford, was overmatched on this night and managed just 3 rebounds in 11 minutes of action.
"He's progressing," Donovan said before the game. "Obviously with the Memphis game being postponed, certainly it gives him a little more time to recuperate, to recover. It would be nice to obviously get him back sooner than later, but I think this week coming up in terms of his rehab will be critical week for him.
"He has gotten better. He hasn't done anything on the court, just been all treatment, but we'll maybe see toward the end of the week maybe where he's at."
The Bulls will get four days off before hosting Portland on Saturday, since Wednesday's scheduled trip to Memphis was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns with the Grizzlies. Memphis has had five games in a row wiped out.
This is the third straight week the Bulls had at least three days off, twice because of games getting canceled. So it's a chance to get more practice time in and they'll need it.
Two barely competitive performances against the Lakers and Celtics raised concerns about how much progress the Bulls have actually made this season. The Bulls have a few wins over short-handed opponents and some where the veterans have made heavy contributions.
The cancellations are also starting to pile up around the league, raising questions about whether every team will be able to get to 72 games played. The NBA is planning to use the second half of the season to make up games, but surely there will be more games postponed after the break and the league can't schedule a bunch of doubleheaders like Major League Baseball did last summer.
"It's probably what we signed up for," Donovan said. "I don't know how the league is going to figure out the scheduling to make up some of these games, and if they can't it will be interesting to see how it all plays out in the end."
There was an ESPN report Monday suggesting the league and players association are discussing an All-Star Game being played in March, with proceeds going to HBCUs. The originally-planned All-Star Game, scheduled for Indianapolis, was already called off.
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