Another late turnover on an inbounds pass seals the Chicago Bulls’ latest head-scratching loss – The Denver Post
A turnover on an inbounds pass from Alex Caruso to Zach LaVine was the final straw in the waning seconds of the Chicago Bulls’ 108-103 loss Tuesday to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Instead of a potential game-tying 3-point attempt before the buzzer, the mixed-up play led to LaVine’s sixth turnover of the night and sent the remnants of the United Center crowd of 20,068 to the exits in disgust.
But that was just one of many reasons the Bulls fell in another epic collapse from a 19-point second-quarter lead, and now it’s up to the players to see what they’re made of.
“It’s very frustrating,” Nikola Vučević said. “It’s kind of been our issue all season long, the inconsistency during games. We play well for a certain period of time, and then it all crashes down and we have these big spurts where we give up a huge run. It’s hard to keep doing that and play that well. Tonight we played well for like the first 18 minutes, and they made their run.
“The second half we had a lead, and the little things cost us. We had a lot more turnovers than they did (20 to 8) and a lot of careless ones. And the fouling also. At the end it comes down to execution. Tonight we had a chance to put the game away early, but we didn’t do that.”
The Clippers had 15 steals among the 20 turnovers, which coach Billy Donovan said was “uncharacteristic” of his team. But turnovers on inbounds plays by Caruso near the end of losses to the Indiana Pacers and Clippers reflect badly on the team.
“I think it’s something we can learn from,” Donovan said of the final turnover Tuesday.
It’s getting a little late in the season for teaching inbounds plays, and this team has too many veterans to continue having issues with the play.
Donovan said it was simply a matter of bad execution. The pass to LaVine was much closer to DeMar DeRozan, who tipped it to LaVine, who lost it to Kawhi Leonard.
“We’ve just got to execute the play better,” Donovan said, blaming the spacing with LaVine and DeRozan.
“We were just all over the place,” DeRozan said. “The ball got fumbled around.”
There was no dispute about that.
“Man, I think Alex was just trying to throw it to an open spot; we had to get the ball inbounds,” LaVine said. “(The play was) for me to go up to the top, but they were switching, so I just tried to make a cut and get open.
“Me and DeMar cut to the same area, and then you just try and make a play. Kawhi got his hand on it and then we just scrambled for it.”
Caruso wasn’t sure it was a lack of execution that led to the turnover.
“For the most part we ran the play (how it) was supposed to run,” Caruso said. “Maybe we just didn’t execute the screening aspect, how they were guarding it. They were switching everything, so maybe we could’ve screened our own better, but for the most part it was pretty much what we drew up.”
Caruso pointed to the 20 turnovers and putting the Clippers at the free-throw line 26 times, where they converted 22.
“Regardless of how well you play in crunch time, if you do those things it’s going to be hard to win,” he said. “I don’t think it should have even gotten there. We played well for the first quarter and a half.”
That was when the Bulls jumped out to a 19-point lead, only to fritter it away in a span of five minutes as the Clippers went on a 23-4 run.
“Losing periods (hurts),” DeRozan said. “But how you lose sucks. It’s frustrating, to a team like that, veteran guys, extremely well-coached. They’re not going to give up. So a 15-, 20-point lead means nothing to them. You’ve got to play 48 minutes when the ball is up. We just couldn’t get it back after we gave them the lead.”
DeRozan complained about a late foul call he didn’t get but also blamed himself for his eight turnovers.
“Just careless,” he said. “I wouldn’t even give them all that credit if it was them. It was just us. We were rushing some stuff, being careless with the ball, being loose with the ball. That killed us too. I had (eight). Whatever it was, it was entirely too much.”
The Bulls thought they reached a low point Dec. 19 when they gave up 150 points in a loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the first time that had happened to them since 1982. Angry words reportedly were tossed around in the locker room, and the Bulls responded with five wins in their next six games.
TV analyst Stacey King was suddenly comparing the Bulls to last year’s Boston Celtics, who overcame a rough start and some in-house finger pointing to win the Eastern Conference.
But the Bulls are 7-8 since, including stunning losses to the Pacers, Charlotte Hornets and now the Clippers, leaving them only marginally better than they were before the alleged turning point.
It’s back to reality for the Bulls, a team that can’t manage to get out of its own way.
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