LaVine scores 38, but Bulls lose in Washington without DeRozan
The Bulls hadn't experienced life without DeMar DeRozan yet this season, and couldn't find a way to win without their leading scorer Wednesday in Washington.
After opening a 16-point advantage early in the third quarter, the Bulls went to sleep and lost to a short-handed Wizards squad 100-97, despite 38 points from Zach LaVine.
LaVine hit a huge 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to tie the score with 29.2 seconds left. But Washington's Kyle Kuzma had the answer, dribbling to his right, then turning and hitting a 3-pointer from the wing for the game-winner with 5.7 seconds on the clock.
The Bulls never got off a tying 3-point attempt. LaVine caught the inbound pass closer to midcourt, and was double-teamed by Deni Avdija and Delon Wright. The Wizards had a foul to give and Wright bumped LaVine.
It looked like LaVine -- and all the Bulls -- were expecting a foul to be called, so LaVine put up a 17-foot jumper thinking he might get a 3-point play opportunity. The foul wasn't called, the shot missed and time expired.
"When I went in to go pull up, Delon Wright fouled me, so my instinct was to go up and try to get a 3-point play," LaVine said. "They didn't call it. That's how it is."
The Bulls' final possession was just one entry in a series of second-half mistakes. Washington played without Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford due to injuries. The Bulls had the size advantage at center, but rarely went into the post to Nikola Vucevic, who has been on a tear the past couple weeks.
Vucevic finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, hitting 7 of 14 shots. Outside of Coby White (13 points), the Bulls couldn't find many scoring options. Patrick Williams had just 6 points, Goran Dragic stayed in his recent slump and finished with 4.
The Bulls led by 13 at halftime, then boosted that to 62-46 when LaVine opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer. Washington outscored the Bulls 41-18 during the rest of the quarter and headed into the fourth with a 7-point lead.
During that third quarter, Washington shot 74% from the field (17-for-23). At one point, the Bulls turned it over twice in a row and both times, lightly-used Jordan Goodwin buried a 3-pointer. It was like the Bulls went back in time, before their run of going 8-4 in the past 12 games.
"It's a mentality we have to have," Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. "Coming out of the third quarter, let's make them take the first time out. Let's get some stops, let's not foul, let's not have breakdowns. Let's not do things that are going to beat ourselves."
The Bulls did keep the Wizards scoreless for nearly four minutes before Kuzma's game-winner. They botched several offensive possessions before LaVine finally tied it. That 3-pointer came after a chase for a loose ball ended with Alex Caruso calling timeout with 1.2 seconds on the shot clock.
"I think we just have to put them away when we have them," LaVine said. "We gave them confidence. Give them credit for making shots and making plays.
"We should be able to put the game away. We let them hang around too long, they got hot, they made some shots, then Kyle hit a big shot at the end."
The Bulls seem optimistic DeRozan won't miss much time after suffering a right quad strain in Monday's loss at Boston.
"Just making sure it's not something that's lingering on, that he reaggravates, that sets him back further," Donovan said before the game. "He still has some discomfort there. We don't feel like it's a major strain or major tear or anything like that, but he definitely has a strain. He's still sore from it the other day."
Javonte Green had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Wednesday morning and will be evaluated in a few weeks. The Bulls have home games against Oklahoma City and Golden State this weekend before leaving on a trip to Paris to play Detroit.