The team picture for most disappointing loss of the season is getting crowded.
Make room for Saturday evening, though.
A Nets team already without Kevin Durant and Caris LeVert also sat Kyrie Irving to shoulder soreness and then smoked the Bulls by 11 in the first quarter and 10 in the fourth on their way to a 117-111 victory. Ex-Bull Spencer Dinwiddie added insult to injury by scoring 20 of his 24 points in the fourth.
âThey just wanted it more than us,â Zach LaVine said.
For a team that made improving their home mark a major priority after winning a franchise-low nine games at the United Center last season, the Bulls sure arenât playing with much urgency.
âOur start was unacceptable,â said coach Jim Boylen, who burned two early timeouts.
The Bulls nearly doubled the Nets up in an impressive second quarter that featured defense leading to offense and plenty of transition attacks that led to a season-high 41 free-throw attempts. The Bulls also finally won the rebounding battle 56-40.
But the Bulls again shot poorly from 3-point range, needing a late flurry to even crack 20 percent and finish 9-for-39.
Missed shots always make an offense look worse. But the issues go beyond poor shooting. The Bulls arenât sprinting the floor consistently. Their halfcourt sets feature little cutting. And since utilizing Lauri Markkanen in this role in the opener against a smallish Hornets frontline, theyâve largely ditched post-up attempts.
âWe get stagnant a lot out there,â LaVine said. âWeâll run one action and then everybody is staring at the person with the ball. We gotta get more fluid. I donât feel a lot of people are in rhythm. When that happens, obviously everybody starts trying to do it themselves.
âItâs tough. I blame myself. I try to do that as well. Iâm in the gym late. Iâm putting up shots. Iâm making sure Iâm prepared so I can do everything I can to help. We gotta do a better job as a team.â
LaVine is slowly giving stronger voice to issues he sees with the offense. Following Fridayâs practice, he talked about needing to utilize Markkanen more in the post. Markkanen also has talked about the equal opportunity offense in the context of him attempting 10 or fewer shots in eight of 13 games now.
âSometimes you get the ball and to me it feels like there are 12 eyes staring at me,â LaVine said. âIâm not scared to take any shot. Iâve not scared to miss a shot. Iâve taken all these shots before. If Iâm the person to blame, I can take it. Iâm in the gym working on my craft each night. I always look at myself first before anyone else. We just gotta do better as a unit.â
What does LaVine, who finished with 36 points, do when he feels 12 eyes staring at him?
“I try to call a pick-and-roll most of the time when that happens and then if nothing comes from that, I’m going to take the shot or pass it. I’m definitely going to at least get a shot on the rim,â he said. âI’m not one to just dribble the clock out or anything like that or throw it to somebody with seven seconds left (on the shot clock). If I get it at the top of the key with eight, nine seconds left on the clock, I’m going to try to make a play.”
But what about the lack of cutting?
âI mean, it’s our offense. We have a five-out offense,â he said. âSo it gets tough when we get to those stagnant points because that’s how it’s supposed to be.”
LaVine attempted double-digit free throws for just the second time this season. He had four such games through 13 games last season.
He also joined Michael Jordan as the only Bulls to post at least 2,100 points, 400 rebounds, 400 assists, 100 steals and 30 blocks in his first 100 games with the franchise. But until the Bulls start winning, LaVine knows his numbers mean little.
âWe should take offense to it. Weâve had a really easy schedule to start off,â LaVine said. âYou gotta win the games youâre supposed to win. Weâve pissed away a lot of games I think we shouldâve won.â
But no changes are coming to the rotation or system.
“I think we gotta stay the course,” Boylen said. “Listen, nobody likes losing games. Thereâs no shame in losing an NBA game. It happens every day. What Iâm disappointed in is our start, a home game, on a Saturday night in Chicago. I didnât like the way we started. I canât play for them. They gotta come out and do it.”
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