Ouch! Another clutch game at the United Center, unfortunately the Chicago Bulls were not the team making the clutch plays. Instead, they were making costly mistakes at the end of the game. Now at 15-18 on the season, the Bulls are still having growing pains following their tough six-point loss to the Denver Nuggets at home on March 1.
The Bulls have now played in 22 clutch games so far this season, tied for first in the league. We are 9-12 in those clutch games. Last season they played a total of 39 clutch games. Even with another clutch game loss that is night and day compared to last season.
They are in close games almost every night and are putting themselves in the right position to win. They just must learn how to finish these winnable games. It is time to stop making excused and to start executing plays in the final two minutes of games.
The game started to slow, and the starting unit looked lifeless and had zero emotion. Coach Billy Donovan was forced to call an early timeout. It took the second unit to come in, in the second half to get them back into the game.
They finally started playing with more energy started executing plays and took a lead in the fourth quarter. Nikola Jokic was just too much for the baby Bulls. It has been the same story all season when they go up against the elite big men in the NBA.
How the Chicago Bulls lost to the Nuggets
They kept the game close down the stretch and were leading late in the fourth. It was the last two minutes that cost the Bulls this game. Very costly mistakes and a lack of focus and finishing plays. Shots early in the shot clock and poor defense sealed their fate…
Under two minutes to play and they made the biggest mistakes possible, at the worst possible time. Zach LaVine took a contested step back three with about 1:42 left in the game and :09 seconds left on the shot clock down by two. Not a good shot, it hit off the backboard and created the next sequences.
Jamal Murray leading on a one against three fast break to stop on a dime to hit a 3. To follow with LaVine getting called for a travel the very next play. Inevitably 2 costly turnover and an under two-minute six-point swing were costly and the Bulls lost in the same fashion as they were earlier in the season.
Unlearned lessons are becoming a mental lapse in late game situations for the Bulls. They are growing as a team, yet they are still making the same mistakes we have become accustom to seeing. The lack of emotions in the starting five needs to translate to competitive focus in late game situations.
With all that said the Bulls still have a lot of growing up to do. There are still some big flaws in the lineup along with massive growing pains. It is imperative that we make the playoff this season. The front office needs to address quite a few things for the growing pains to amount to growth.
This young team needs to experience that playoff intensity to help them with late game execution and to get the experience needed to grow and build camaraderie needed to be one beating heart. Just being in a game is not going to be enough for this young team.
It is the mixture of mental toughness and late game execution, they put themselves in the position they need to be in to win they just lack the mental toughness it takes to execute the plays. Donovan is putting this team in the correct sets it is up to them to make the correct reads.
The good thing is that growing pains do not last forever eventually you stop growing. When the Bulls become full grown, they will reach new heights. The reality is these tough losses are exactly what this young team needs!