Bulls fumble away another big lead and lose to Clippers
Bulls coach Billy Donovan could have sat down at his postgame news conference and admitted up front there were plenty of mistakes made during a 108-103 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
The Bulls squandered a 19-point lead in the first half, coughed up 20 turnovers, including a career-high eight by DeMar DeRozan; then messed up an inbound play on a potential tying possession in the final 10 seconds.
"I take a lot upon myself, that was uncharacteristic turning the ball over as much as I did, just careless," DeRozan said. "I wouldn't even give them all that credit, it was just us rushing some stuff, being careless with the ball, being loose with the ball. That killed us too. Whatever it was, it was entirely too much. We can't let that happen."
This was a night of strange milestones for the Bulls. Besides DeRozan's 8 turnovers, Zach LaVine set a career-high with 14 rebounds.
Turnovers were all over this game. LaVine finished with 6 and the Clippers' Paul George had 5. Center Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls with 23 points and 14 rebounds. DeRozan finished with 20, while LaVine came close to a triple-double with 18 points, 14 boards and 8 assists. Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points to lead the Clippers.
After falling behind 99-91 with 6:38 remaining, the Bulls briefly stopped turning it over and started chipping away at the deficit. A DeRozan jumper made it 101-100 with 3:43 left and after he missed a chance to take the lead, the Bulls watched Leonard bury a 3 over Vucevic to make it a 4-point game.
About a minute later, LaVine blocked a driving shot attempt by Leonard and Alex Caruso finished a layup on the other end to make it a 2-point game. The teams exchanged misses before LaVine was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 1:03 left, but he hit just 1 of 3 free throws.
With a chance to take the lead, DeRozan tried to drive to the basket, but stumbled and hit the floor with no foul called. Reggie Jackson, the defender on the play, quickly pulled his arms back, looking like he was maybe guilty of something, and DeRozan was still in disbelief later as he sat at his locker.
"I got fouled. What went wrong is they didn't call it," DeRozan said. "Simple as that. It's frustrating being in that situation. I didn't want to settle for the jump shot. As soon as I spin, his arm was reaching in, I couldn't fully spin. I don't know. It don't make no sense to me.
"I tried to be aggressive, tried to get downhill. Clearly it was a foul, it just stinks that they wake up tomorrow and read the last two minute report and something else will be missed that possibly could have cost us the game, that's the more frustrating part."
Needing a defensive stop, the Bulls instead committed 2 fouls and a pair of Norman Powell free throws made it 106-103 with 10.8 seconds left.
The Bulls' final turnover of the night came on the ensuing inbound play. DeRozan and Vucevic stood at the foul line to set a screen for LaVine. LaVine was well-guarded as he ran to the top of the key and kept curling. Meanwhile, DeRozan popped out and inbounder Caruso dropped a pass right in between his two teammates, it was knocked away and eventually stolen.
"We didn't execute the play," Donovan said. "No one broke it off. We've got to execute the play better. There was basically three options on the play. But the way we initially lined up, we didn't execute the cuts like we needed to. We just needed to be better, so the spacing became really poor on the play. Obviously the spacing with (LaVine) and DeMar was not great."
The Bulls started out hot, hitting 5 of their first 7 3-point shots, then 8 of 13. Vucevic rolled up 11 points and 4 rebounds in his opening six-minute segment.
They eventually built a 46-27 advantage at the 7:22 mark of the second quarter. But it took just five minutes to answer with a 23-4 run to tie the score before the first half ended.
Coby White set a milestone with his 500th career 3-point basket. He got there faster than any player in Bulls history, 237 games, and currently ranks sixth on the team's all-time list, between Michael Jordan and Lauri Markkanen.