Winners of four straight entering last night's contest against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Chicago Bulls had all the positive momentum they needed to keep the streak alive. Even when pitted against one of the Eastern Conference's top teams, the Bulls had already proven they could get the job done, as the first win of their streak came against the very same Bucks in an overtime victory,
The Bulls' biggest obstacle last night wouldn't be the Bucks. Instead, they'd be their own worst enemies, as the injury report would be potentially littered with too many casualties to overcome. Lonzo Ball was an obvious scratch, but Chicago would also be without another two key players in Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso. That's $70 million of the Bulls' cap space accounted for — approximately 42% of the entire payroll.
As it turns out, the Bulls and Bucks would be destined for another overtime duel. DeMar DeRozan would hit a jumper with only three seconds remaining on the clock to tie the game 118-118 before heading to extra time. Their luck would run out this time, however, as the Bulls ultimately fell short and Milwaukee ever so slightly edged out a 129-133 victory.
Despite the best efforts of DeRozan and Coby White, this would mark the first time the Bulls have taken a loss in December. Here's a look at the best highlights from last night's game, courtesy of the Bulls' social media team.
Despite the overtime loss to the Bucks, the Bulls continue to play significantly better.
DeRozan and White contributed the bulk of the Bulls' offensive output, scoring 41 and 33 points, respectively. No other player scored more than 15 points, but this could be attributed to DeRozan's extremely high usage rate. DeMar shot 14-for-30 from the field and took six trips to the charity stripe. He also dished out 11 assists while committing only a pair of turnovers. For better or worse, the offense was once again running almost exclusively through DeRozan.
Although Patrick Williams and Nikola Vucevic had reasonably solid games, the rest of the supporting cast was not able to offer much assistance. Ayo Dosunmu, Andre Drummond, and Torrey Craig combined for a horrific 5-for-27 shooting from the field. Meanwhile, seven of Milwaukee's players scored in the double digits, including some of their less reliable cast such as Malik Beasley, AJ Green, and Bobby Portis.
Although he shot 0-for-4 in overtime, the Bulls would have never had a chance to win it in the first place without Coby White. In the midst of the best stretch of his career to date, the fifth-year guard scored on 12 of his 16 shot attempts in regulation en route to an electric 33-point performance. If he can maintain this level of play, the Bulls shouldn't miss a step in the absence of Zach LaVine.
We'll get to see Coby tested again very soon, as the Bulls' upcoming schedule includes games against the Nuggets, Heat, 76ers, and Lakers. If White can sustain his play through this stretch, he just might inspire enough confidence in the front office to make him a mainstay in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. For someone who just signed a three-year extension at a team-friendly rate, that sounds like an absolute steal to me.