In the 1st half it was ‘Sacramento, where you at?’ as the Bulls held down De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield and took an 11-point lead into halftime. The Bulls weren’t tearing it up on offense, but Zach LaVine driving and making everything he attempted, including a most spectacular soaring dunk through an opening in the middle. Lauri Markkanen collected a pass off a Justin Holiday steak on one end and took it the length of the floor for a party-worthy dunk himself. Lauri had his inside game going Monday night. His outside game…not so much. He missed all but 1 of his 8 three-point attempts on the evening. Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis rejoined the mix and reminded onlookers what they can bring to this party. Both, understandably, showed a little rust. The Kings, meanwhile, must’ve found the oil can at halftime, because they came out of the locker room churning. Suddenly, Fox appeared unstoppable. Fox, the 2nd year PG out of Kentucky, is Bugatti-fast…racing past retreating Bulls on the break several times. He ended up with 25 points and the Bulls lost by 19. Quite a half-to-half turnaround.
Twitter tells me the Bulls caught some boos, again, as they left the court. A Kings player up to date on Sunday’s drama was reportedly heard joking about a hard practice for Chicago tomorrow. Bulls aren’t getting much respect around the NBA these days. Cheer up, because there are positives to take away, even during a season like this. I remember sitting at Wrigley Field when the Cubs lost almost 100 games in 2013. But a kid named Anthony Rizzo drove in 80 runs with 23 homers and was figuring out his place in the world. Now a kid named Zach LaVine is learning to lead this team in partnership with Markkanen. Of course, unheralded prospect Junior Lake hit .284 in a late-season audition for the 2013 Cubs. (I remember I wasn’t pleased they gave Lake Sosa’s #21 because I believed he might stick around.) Guess I’m warning myself not to take everything as a harbinger of the future. But there is some hope you can hang your hat on, like Kris Dunn’s improved finishing at the basket. I’m a major Dunn supporter. He’s one of my favorite Bulls to watch. I’ve noticed the improvement at the rim in the preaseason and in his 2 regular season appearances. I think a Dunn-LaVine-Arch-Shaq Harrison backcourt rotation can work for this year’s team. Three crazy-intense defenders and a natural scorer who can play man-to-man is very workable in today’s NBA. Dunn brings a lot to the offensive end as well. It’s great to have everyone back, just in time for Thursday’s game in Mexico City. Maybe it’s just the trip the Bulls need. Get out of Chicago, and the U.S and do a little sightseeing after shootarounds. I think they’ll beat Orlando down there. Let’s get it. Go Bulls.