A Young Bulls Lineup Faces Up Against The Cleveland Cavaliers
By Kevin Rueda
The 2018-2019 NBA season has been disappointing thus far for many Chicago Bulls fans. The Bulls are in its second year of a full rebuild and have experienced some changes with the offseason departures of Jerian Grant, Sean Kilpatrick, David Nwaba, Noah Vonleh, and Paul Zisper. The Chicago Bulls have been working on developing the talent of its young players Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., and Jabari Parker. The goal of the 2018 Chicago Bulls season is to build a fluid and dynamic team revolving around the young players.
On Nov. 10, the 3-9 Bulls faced off against the struggling 1-10 Cleveland Cavaliers, who have felt the devastating aftermath of losing point guard Kyrie Irving and superstar Lebron James in its offseason.
The Chicago Bulls came out to an early 37-23 lead in the first quarter. The Bulls’ quick and explosive early success was a combination of strong performances by Zach LaVine and Ryan Arcidiacono, who totaled to 21 of the Bulls’ 37 points, as well as key misses by the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the first quarter, the Cavaliers missed 12 times, potentially scoring 26 points. In comparison, the Bulls only missed seven times, potentially scoring 16 points.
The second quarter looked completely different. The Cavaliers took advantage of 30 missed points by the Chicago Bulls and outscored the Bulls 30-16 to tie the game 53-53 going into halftime. Cleveland’s Jordan Clarkson and Kyle Korver scored 10 points and 8 points respectively. In addition, Cleveland controlled possession of the ball throughout the quarter, which allowed them to cut away at the Bulls’ lead. Out of the 29 rebounds in the second quarter, the Cavaliers came out on top 20 times.
The Chicago Bulls bounced back from their poor second quarter performance by applying more offensive pressure and making key defensive stops. However, for both the Bulls and the Cavs, the second half was defined by poor offense and good defense. A total of 48 misses were made in the third and fourth quarter, in addition to 5 blocks and 13 turnovers. The inconsistency of both teams’ respective offense resulted in a back and forth shootout between the two teams, in which neither team was able to pull away with a lead. The Bulls concluded the third quarter with a narrow 79-77 lead. The only degree of separation would come 5 minutes into the fourth quarter, in which the Bulls’ offense was able to string together a couple of consecutive scores on the back of free throws by Zach LaVine and Chandler Hutchison. In a minute and a half, the Bulls extended their 85-83 lead to 92-85.
With two minutes remaining in the game, the Bulls held a 97-92 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cleveland offense was able to make 6 points in 47 seconds, while free throws by Wendell Carter Jr. had only gotten the Bulls 2 points. The Bulls’ lead had been shrunken down to 99-98 with just over a minute remaining. With 29 seconds left, Justin Holiday recovered a defensive rebound after Cleveland player Rodney Hood missed a two-point jump shot. With possession of the ball, the Bulls seemed primed to run out the clock and win the game. However, a bad pass by Zach LaVine resulted in Tristan Thompson stealing the ball and a turnover. The Cavaliers quickly called a 60-second timeout and swapped out their lineup to Kyle Korver, Collin Sexton, JR Smith, Jordan Clarkson, and Rodney Hood. With 13 seconds remaining, the Cavaliers would have an opportunity to steal the game in an all-or-nothing scenario.
The United Center was tense and electric, with the fate of the game up in the air. The Cavaliers stormed forward, but Collin Sexton missed a two-point driving layup. With 3 seconds left, Collin Sexton recovered the ball and went for a final last-second layup, which was rejected with a block by Jabari Parker. The game concluded 99-98 with the Bulls coming out victorious.
While the Chicago Bulls’ victory was sloppy, there were some positive takeaways in Zach LaVine’s 24 points and 8 rebounds, and Wendell Carter Jr.’s 5 out of 6 field goal scores along with 5 rebounds. The Chicago Bulls are not looking for a playoff spot, as the team is rebuilding. The Bulls are investing time and energy in its young lineup and are hoping that eventually, a solid squad can be built from the team’s raw and natural talent.