Chicago Bulls: The front court had no answer for Cavs

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bulls fell to 1-4 Wednesday night to the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chicago much like the Knicks game, couldn’t close out in the fourth quarter.

The Chicago Bulls (1-4) met their first Central Division opponent the Cleveland Cavaliers (2-2) and the Bulls are headed back to Chicago on a two-game losing streak. The Cavs frontcourt was dominant as Kevin Love finished the game with 17 points and 20 rebounds while Tristian Thompson had a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Five Bulls players scored 14 or more points, but finding the bottom of the night was a struggle in the fourth quarter. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen led the team in scoring with 16 while Wendell Carter Jr. (15), Otto Porter Jr. (15), and Thaddeus Young (14) all chipped in.

Chicago practically lost to Bobby Portis in their previous game versus the New York Knicks allowing him to score 11 points in the fourth quarter including two three-point daggers in the final minutes. This loss wasn’t much better and actually very similar which might be concerning if the Bulls lose another fourth-quarter lead versus Detroit Friday.

The Bulls led 53-50 at halftime, both teams were getting to the free-throw line often as they combined for 30 free-throw attempts. Chicago was couldn’t stop Love and Thompson in the first half. Love had 10 points, and 16 rebounds (15 defensive) and was a problem grabbing every Chicago miss. Thompson scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds giving the Cavs frontcourt 25 points and 21 rebounds in the first 24 minutes. Cleveland had 26 as a team in the first half.

Chicago attempted 20 three-pointers in the first half hitting six (30-percent) behind Zach LaVine and Markkanen’s two apiece. The Bulls used the hot hands to keep their lead. Thaddeus Young (4-7) and Luke Kornet (4-4) each had four makes a piece combining for 18 points. Markkanen led Chicago with 11 points and five rebounds in the first half.

Cleveland owned the third quarter taking the lead at the 6:22 mark 69-67 for the Cavs first lead since the 8-6 in the first quarter. The Bulls finished the third quarter with an 82-80 lead but allowed Jordan Clarkson and Tristian Thompson combined for 11 points in the third quarter. Otto Porter Jr. scored eight points in the third quarter going three for five shooting. There were 9 ties and four lead changes going into the fourth quarter and it didn’t stop there.

Markkanen continued to be the main offensive weapon for the Bulls finishing with a team-high 16 points. The Cavaliers young guard duos showed out early in the fourth quarter. Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. exchanged a three-pointer at the buzzer and transition dunk at the 6:51 mark gave the Cavs a 100-04, the Cavs largest of the night. The Bulls came out of the break and they couldn’t keep up with the Cavs pace. Collin Sexton (18 points) and Jordan Clarkson were part of the driving forces in getting the Bulls on their heels.

Zach LaVine and Thaddeus Young took over the final six minutes scoring eight of the final 10 points from the 6:13 mark on. Ultimately the Bulls couldn’t get calls in the final minute with LaVine driving to the hoop and Carter Jr. twice at the rim not getting a call. Questionable coaching on Jim Boylen’s behalf to sit Markkanen the final 7:12 of the game.

Markkanen finished the game with 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists on 4/12 shooting in 27 minutes. He was a -9 real-plus minus, only Coby White (11) and Kris Dunn (11) were worse. I don’t think there is any excuse for sitting an All-Star like Markkanen, but we’ll see what the coaching staff says. White, Dunn and Tomas Satoransky all finished with eight points apiece.

Next. Redrafting each Bulls first round pick since Derrick Rose. dark

Thaddeus Young took a huge charge with on Cedi Osman with 1:16 left down 108-106 but a loose ball foul was called on Wendell Carter Jr the following possession. Cleveland scored two more to push the lead to 112-106 with 28.8 seconds left. Nail in the coffin. The Bulls go back to the Windy City and host the 2-3 Detroit Pistons on Friday following this loss.