Chicago Bulls Narrowly Miss Victory in Tournament Debut, Falling 109-107 to Nets

The Bulls blew a fourth-quarter lead for the second straight game.
Chicago Bulls lose first NBA In-Season Tournament game vs. Brooklyn Nets 109 -107 - On Tap Sports Net

Although the Chicago Bulls changed the starting lineup for their first-ever NBA In-Season Tournament game, the results remained the same in a 109-107 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Torrey Craig took the starting forward spot from Patrick Williams, something fans have been clamoring for over the last few weeks, but it still wasn’t enough for the Bulls.

With NBA In-Season Tournament play getting underway, the Bulls debuted a new court and their 2023-24 City Edition jerseys. None of that mattered down the stretch either.

Nov 3, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; The Luvabulls perform before the first half of the NBA In-Season Tournament game between the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center.
Nov 3, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; The Luvabulls perform before the first half of the NBA In-Season Tournament game between the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center.

Photo: Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports

Different, But Same

With a couple of minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Nets held a 28-20 lead, but Zach LaVine’s dunk helped the Bulls fight back and trim Brooklyn’s lead to 33-30. But then Mikail Bridges blew past the Bulls’ defense for a quick lay-in to extend the lead to five points.

The Nets had a 45-35 lead with seven minutes remaining in the first half before Coby White and Patrick Williams had a great stretch offensively for the Bulls. The duo combined for eight points and cut the deficit to just two points over the next minute and a half. Zach LaVine then contributed four points to put the Bulls ahead 47-45 and found Nikola Vucevic for a layup. The big man’s first basket of the game gave the Bulls a four-point lead.
Player grades: Dorian Finney-Smith drops 21 as Nets beat Bulls 109-107

The rest of the half was a back-and-forth battle with DeMar DeRozan hitting a big three before Cam Thomas and Dorian Finney-Smith responded with 3’s of their own to give the Nets the 59-58 advantage going into the half.

Overall, the Bulls played well in the first half, the Nets just hit more shots and made fewer mistakes.

In the third quarter, the Bulls leaned on LaVine and Vucevic offensively as the duo ran a pick-and-roll offense to get the actions they were looking for. DeMar DeRozan then found his stride to end the quarter, giving the Bulls an 80-78 lead going into the final frame.

Then, in typical Bulls fashion so far this season, they hung around in the fourth quarter but didn’t have enough to seal the deal. The Nets got big baskets from Dennis Smith Jr, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Dayron Sharpe to get their offense rolling, taking the lead with nine minutes remaining.

With just under seven minutes remaining, Alex Caruso hit a three-pointer for his first basket of the game tying the score at 93. Mikail Bridges hit a three of his own a few possessions later, putting Brooklyn back in front before both teams started to trade baskets.


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Bulls Lose Inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament Game vs. Nets 109-107 |  Yardbarker

Going into the final minute, Bridges had a dunk to put his team up by four before LaVine made a beautiful floater cutting in response. The Bulls then forced a huge shot-clock violation to regain possession with just 38 seconds on the clock. Billy Donovan called for LaVine to take the inbound pass, where he tried to attack the rim and missed the shot.

Coby White grabbed the rebound and returned the ball to LaVine, but he missed that shot as well. Vucevic was forced to use the Bulls’ foul to give on Bridges, who made the first of two free throws. Alas, the Bulls had another shot at life with an opportunity to tie the game.

Or at least we thought.

Once the Bulls advanced the ball, Ben Simmons strategically fouled LaVine with just a few ticks remaining on the clock. The best the LaVine could do at the free-throw line was be down by one and give the ball back to Brooklyn. LaVine made the first then intentionally missed the second before chasing down his rebound and taking the shot for the Bulls’ last chance to win.

His attempt narrowly missed, giving the Nets their first win of group play in the NBA In-Season Tournament.


Bulls' defense struggles guarding three-point line, offense falters in loss  to Nets - Chicago Sun-Times

The Bulls had two games this week in which there were multiple chances to win, but they couldn’t put it all together down the stretch.

With the change in the starting five, Patrick Williams looked more comfortable coming off of the bench. Williams had 10 points on 4-6 shooting from the floor and a team-high +10.

What’s On Tap Next?

There’s no rest for the wicked as the Bulls will be back in action Saturday when they visit the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets. Tip-off is at 8 PM CT and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago and NBA TV.

The Bulls’ next NBA In-Season Tournament game will be on Friday, Nov. 17 when they host the Orlando Magic.


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