The Chicago Bulls (4-8) fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder (6-6) in overtime with a score of 125-127. The Bulls were led by Zach Lavine with 35 points (on 11-19 shooting), 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, with Coby White chipping in 22 points, 9 rebounds, and assists. Lauri Markkanen played his first game since December 29th and scored 16 points, albeit shooting 5-14 from the field and five Bulls players were in double figures. The Thunder were led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scoring 33 points along with Luguentz Dort pouring in 21 and Isaiah Coby adding 14 points.
As competitive as these games have been lately, this might be the most frustrating game of the season. The Bulls simply choked down the stretch with so many timely mistakes and missed field goals. The Bulls held a 22 point lead at a point and played like a very domininating team in the first half until they took the foot off the gas and let the Thunder back into the game with careless turnovers (10 by the backcourt, 24 by the Bulls). Offensively, Lavine played great all game until he had back-to-back turnovers and really allowed the Thunder to close the gap. It all finally culminated the Bulls up by 10 with under 2 minutes remaining, the Bulls fouled a 3 point shooter, committed 2 offensive fouls, and had a 5 second inbound turnover (I cannot make this stuff up). When overtime started, the Bulls completely fell apart and looked like deer in the headlights. Lavine made a 3 with 6.8 seconds left to pull the bulls within 126-125 and fouled George Hill who only made 1-2 of his free throws. Lavine received the ensuing inbounds pass with 5.2 seconds remaining and hoisted up a shot at the buzzer which was just barely off and that wast he ball game.
One note, I know many people have discussed the improvement and usefulness of Denzel Valentine, but I cannot see it. I have thought over the past few years that he is one of the worst players on this team. Although he has played much better to start the season and I have full faith in the new Bulls management, I feel it was a mistake to sign him over Kris Dunn. I, personally, feel he is lacking a lot of basketball IQ with many boneheaded plays every game and shooting floaters from just inside the 3 point line that never go in. Even during tonights game during the final play of overtime, instead of spacing the floor, Valentine ran down the middle and basically was a 6th defender on the court against Lavine. I truly hope he somehow can improve or show more value in the future.
The Bulls are at it again tomorrow (1/17) against the Dallas Mavericks.
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