LaVine scores 41, but Bulls come up empty against Kings

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Zach LaVine scored a season-high 41 points, but the Bulls followed a familiar script while losing 110-101 at Sacramento on Sunday. The Bulls fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter, got within 1 in the fourth, but never took the lead.

    Zach LaVine scored a season-high 41 points, but the Bulls followed a familiar script while losing 110-101 at Sacramento on Sunday. The Bulls fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter, got within 1 in the fourth, but never took the lead. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/4/2022 9:10 PM

Zach LaVine cutting loose for a season-high 41 points should have led to a happy night for the Bulls.

But sloppiness and refusal to share the ball led to another frustrating loss, 110-101, at Sacramento on Sunday. The Bulls' road trip, which began with a win in Milwaukee, ended with a 2-4 record and three straight losses.

 

The Bulls fell behind by 18 points in the second quarter, closed within one in the fourth, but couldn't finish it off. The Kings played a game against the Clippers on Saturday afternoon, while the Bulls had the day off, so it made no sense for the Bulls to run out of gas at the end.

As the game slipped away, LaVine garnered a technical foul with 2:32 left. He also finished with 8 rebounds and 4 steals, becoming the third NBA player to have a game of at least 40 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals this season, joining Devin Booker and Luka Doncic, according to Bulls PR.

"We can be as frustrated as we want," Bulls coach Billy Donovan told reporters after the game. "That's not helping anything. We're going to have to find ways to help each other collectively. We've all got to help each other be better and that's really what it comes down to."

The Bulls trailed by two after the first quarter, then made a flurry of mistakes to open the second. They piled up 11 of their 16 turnovers in the second quarter alone, and the usually reliable second unit got the big deficit rolling.

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In the fourth quarter, DeMar DeRozan tried too hard to get himself going. In the first half, he scored just 2 points on 1 of 7 shooting. DeRozan picked it up in the third by scoring 10 points, which is his style. But twice late in the game, he forced a shot, missed, and it led to a Sacramento fast-break lay-in.

The Bulls closed within 88-87 after a Patrick Williams 3-point play with 9:31 left. But they turned it over in between 5 straight points by Kings guard Malik Monk.

DeRozan's 3-point play made it 93-90 with 6:52 remaining, but that turned out to be the Bulls' last gasp. The Kings answered with an 8-1 run to boost the lead to 10 and it was time to warm up the plane for the flight home.

"I knew this was going to be hard this year, I just knew it," Donovan said. "I tried to talk to them and prepare them for it. They were all like, 'We're going to handle the adversity.' Well, these are the moments where everybody's got to be able to work together and pull together and pull yourself out of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"To me, it's very easy to play and compete at a really high level when things go well. You find out which arch as a team by how much adversity you can endure and withstand."

It's still very early in the season, but with a 9-14 record, the Bulls are starting to dig themselves a hole, similar to what they do in games. The Kings have been one of several surprise teams in the West. After starting the season 0-4, they've now gone 13-5 since.

Donovan changed the starting lineup on Friday in Golden State, using Alex Caruso and Javonte Green instead of Williams and Ayo Dosunmu. That practice couldn't continue because Green skipped Sunday's game with knee soreness, so Williams was back out with the starter's and Derrick Jones Jr. saw more time with the subs.

The turnovers were spread evenly, with Jones the only player to accumulate three. The Bulls hit a season-low with just 17 assists, after averaging 24 on the season. Sacramento countered with 30 assists.

DeRozan finished with 18 points and 4 assists on 6 of 18 shooting. Nikola Vucevic scored 12 and Williams 10. Monk led the Kings with 20 points, while Domantas Sabonis pulled in 17 rebounds.

"I use this in the consistency part, the attention to detail, the little things," Donovan said. "I think those things become critically important. It's the detail things that we've got to keep working at.

"Coaches, players, we've all got to dig ourselves out of this. We've got to help them from the bench as much as we can, they've got to help each other on the floor as much as they can."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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