Chicago Bulls: Lonzo Ball absolutely laid an egg in loss to Pacers

Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Lonzo Ball, Chicago Bulls Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

For the first time this season, the Chicago Bulls looked truly flat in a loss to a team with a losing record. That does make sense, though, since this was the sixth game in the last nine days for second-year head coach Billy Donovan and the Bulls, and the seventh in the last 11 days. No one really played astoundingly well for the Bulls when it mattered in a convincing 109-77 loss at the hands of the division foe Indiana Pacers at home at the United Center on Nov. 22.

There were a handful of Bulls players in this game that really came out flat too. One to note is point guard Lonzo Ball. And given the fact that the Bulls were already short star center Nikola Vucevic and point guard Alex Caruso against the Pacers, Lonzo playing poorly really put the nail in the Bulls coffin. Lonzo was an x-factor for the Bulls in this game.

Chicago Bulls got an off night from Lonzo Ball in 32-point loss to the Pacers

It doesn’t take long looking at the box score to figure out just how much of an off night this was for Lonzo on Nov. 22. He registered his lowest game score of the season, just shy of -3. That is also one of the lowest game scores of the last three years for Lonzo.

In this loss to the Pacers on Nov. 22, Lonzo put up a goose egg with zero points, five rebounds, two assists, no steals, one block, and one turnover. He shot a poor 0-of-7 from the field and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Of all the starters in this game for the Bulls and Pacers, Lonzo was definitely the worst. He registered a box plus/minus of -15.2 and an offensive rating of 12. That’s pretty insane to think about, but not too hard to see when a player like Lonzo goes 0-of-7 from the field with just two assists and one turnover.

In terms of offensive efficiency, Lonzo was pretty streaky out of the gates this season. He does remain a rock in the starting unit in terms of presence in transition and on the defensive end of the floor. And the Bulls know what the consistent strengths are from Lonzo night in and night out on offense.

Yet, it would be nice to see Lonzo find a more consistent bit of offensive efficiency as the season moves along.

The Pacers found a system that worked in terms of putting sizable defenders on Lonzo on the perimeter. And despite the Pacers playing at a high pace this season under former Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, they still managed to get back on defense quickly on most possessions.

Throughout much of Lonzo’s time on the floor, the Pacers matched up either point guard Malcolm Brogdon, small forward Justin Holiday, or shooting guard Caris LeVert on him defensively. All three of those Pacers players are solid defenders on the perimeter and/or bring a lot of length to the table.

Not everyone is going to have the ability to put those types of defenders on Lonzo. And it’s now up to Lonzo to be able to find more space to get open by effectively moving off-ball and taking his shot when he does get open looks.

Off nights are going to happen, especially when the Bulls have such a large quantity of games in just over a week. But the hope is that Lonzo can bounce back in a big way later this week when the Bulls face some easier opposition such as the Houston Rockets.

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It doesn’t look like this is going to be an endemic problem for Lonzo and the Bulls. The Pacers came out firing and this was a tired Bulls’ team playing in the back end of back-to-back games on Nov. 22. Expect Lonzo to come out strong for the Bulls in the team’s next game, which comes on Nov. 24 against the Rockets on the road.