Clippers show up ready to play, sail past Bulls 125-106
A rematch against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers turned into a night of reflection for Bulls rookie Patrick Williams.
The Bulls took the Clippers to the wire last month in Los Angeles. This time, the Clips cruised to a 125-106 victory at the United Center on Friday. The game was close in the first half, but the Bulls were never within single digits in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers were already without Paul George, who missed his fourth game with a toe injury. Then in the first four minutes of the game, both Leonard and center Serge Ibaka limped into the locker room with injuries.
Both players returned after a brief rest and Leonard cruised to a 33-point performance. Williams has often said Leonard was his favorite player growing up and someone he's tried to pattern his game after.
Williams finished with just 3 points and 4 rebounds in 35 minutes, so this game was both a jolt of reality and a learning experience.
"You can put a lot of that on me," Williams said after the game. "I think Kawhi was just a little bit too comfortable tonight getting to his spots, getting to his areas, things like that. The first game, I'm not going to say he wasn't comfortable, but I think I made him work just a little bit more the first game."
Leonard scored 35 points in the first meeting, which the Clippers won by 3 points. The Bulls also played the Lakers to the wire during that same road trip, then lost badly in the home rematch. Those two results served as another reminder of the distance between the Bulls and the NBA's elite.
"Every game is a reality check," Williams said. "You've got to come out locked in every game no matter who's the opponent because in this league it's always rough. There are no easy games, there are no laid-back days. Every game is a battle. You've just got to lock in every game and treat it like that."
Williams said he already has a routine in place to study and learn from the games he plays, especially if it's against an opponent he admires like Leonard.
"I go back and watch those games 10, 20 times, just to see what they did and how I can implement that into my game," Williams said. "For sure, it being Kawhi Leonard, I would definitely watch this game a lot. I kind of know what he did. He was a lot more aggressive this game.
"I want to be great in this league. I think my teammates and my coaches have the confidence in me that I will be really good or great in this league. I do it for me, but I also do it for them just to let them know that as much confidence as they have in me, I have to have that much confidence in myself."
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 26 points, while Coby White and Tomas Satoransky had 17 each. This turned into a game where some different players got opportunities. Satoransky's point total was a season-high and Adam Mokoka played for the first time since Jan. 18.
Center Daniel Gafford had a rough start to this game, so Luke Kornet made his fourth appearance of the season and scored 7 points in 15 minutes. Kornet played briefly in a couple of recent blowout wins.
'I thought our guys really battled," coach Billy Donovan said. "Obviously there were some lineups out there I thought were hard for us with their size differential and playing over the top of us."