No brother, and LaMelo, Hornets carve up Bulls defense

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The Bulls were looking to build some positive momentum, but suffered their fourth-straight blowout loss at home Friday. This time, LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets carved up the Bulls defense for a 133-117 victory.

    The Bulls were looking to build some positive momentum, but suffered their fourth-straight blowout loss at home Friday. This time, LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets carved up the Bulls defense for a 133-117 victory. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/8/2022 10:40 PM

Coach Billy Donovan said he didn't provide enough clarity on defensive coverages at shootaround.

DeMar DeRozan compared getting ready for the NBA playoffs to taking AP classes in high school so you might get into Yale.

 

But while the playoffs loom next week, the Bulls continued to play like a 15-win team that made vacation plans last month. Friday's defenseless effort against Charlotte might have been the ugliest of the Bulls' four straight losses.

Without older brother Lonzo on the court to slow him down, Hornets guard LaMelo Ball made the Bulls look like they were playing in their socks during a 133-117 blowout at the United Center. The Bulls trailed by as many as 37 points.

"When you get counted out, when you're down to your last dollar, down to your last meal, you ain't go no choice but to pick it up and figure out how you're going to keep eating," DeRozan said. "I think that's where the next test for us is at, to see what we're really made out of.

"We've got a week to really lock in, to figure this thing out. We've all got to figure out how we can be better going into the playoffs."

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Granted, Charlotte was trying to improve its spot in the standings for the play-in tournament and the Bulls are locked into the No. 6 seed. The Hornets finished the night tied for ninth place with Atlanta and a game behind Brooklyn and Cleveland with one to play.

Early in the season, the Bulls were a fast-paced, athletic team. During the past two contests, they've looked painfully slow on defense, unable to match up with Boston's Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart on Wednesday, then couldn't stay anywhere near Ball or Terry Rozier early in Friday's game.

"I think the technique and the way we went about doing it was not good enough," Donovan said. "I don't blame them at all, I blame myself for not doing as good enough job, in my opinion, creating clarity. I think early it got (the Hornets) into a rhythm."

The Hornets knocked down their first 11 shots of the game before Rozier finally bricked a jumper. Ball led the way, piling up 13 points in the opening four minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I think it's just one of those tests that we wish we would have had earlier in the season," DeRozan said. "We had so much success so quick, so fast, I knew at some point we were going to have to deal with this type of adversity. You never want it at the end of the road."

Coby White was a surprise starter Friday, but after a few minutes of LaMelo mania, Donovan sent Ayo Dosunmu onto the floor.

Eventually, it fell to White, Dosunmu, Troy Brown Jr. and Derrick Jones Jr. to try to find a rhythm, since Zach LaVine (23 points) and DeRozan (17) were given the fourth quarter off. White hit 6 of 9 shots from 3-point range to finish with 19.

"One of the things I wanted to do was take a look at putting Zach at the point, just to help us get the ball moving early," Donovan said. "Just because when he's coming down the floor with the ball and he's in actions with DeMar or Vuc (center Nikola Vucevic), it draws two and allows us to kind of get going."

The Bulls have one game left in the regular season on Sunday at Minnesota. The Bulls might as well make that one a JV game, since they can't improve their seed, but maybe they'll feel some urgency to get a win before the postseason begins. The Timberwolves have a play-in game looming and might rest their regulars.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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