Thursday night, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and the 4-0 Chicago Bulls celebrated a special night as they hosted the New York Knicks.
Former Bull and beloved fan favorite, Joakim Noah, was being honored as a Bulls ambassador in front of the home crowd. Many of Noah’s former teammates were in attendance as he received a standing ovation, yet in the end, the Bulls couldn’t pull off a victory on such a memorable night. The Knicks escaped with a 104-103 win.
Throughout this game, the Bulls’ offense struggled mightily for the first time all season. In each of the team’s first four games, there may have been stretches where they cooled off. However, in this loss, Chicago could never get anything going — at least, until it was too late.
Cutting a double-digit lead to just one point with four seconds to go, the Bulls had their chance to pull of a remarkable comeback win. DeRozan came up just short on the final shot, though. This was a night which felt as though the Bulls really needed two key players healthy.
Chicago Bulls guard Coby White and forward Patrick Williams will provide a much-needed boost, and hopefully soon.
Patrick Williams started the game for Chicago, but ultimately left due to an injured wrist. Williams was already trying to come back from a shoulder strain, and now has another ailment to deal with.
Chicago was bullied on the glass against the Knicks, getting out-rebounded 49-37. Williams’ departure, and the fact that he wasn’t 100 percent to begin with, really hurt them on this night. Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson were too much in the paint for one Nikola Vucevic to handle.
Vucevic isn’t an overpowering rebounder or defender, either, which made it tougher to defend the glass. Williams was missed dearly.
As for Coby White, he still isn’t back from a shoulder injury of his own, and the Bulls could use his offense in a big way. White should be good for 15 points off the bench on a nightly basis, and every once and a while, a big outburst.
In a game where both LaVine and DeRozan struggled to find a rhythm offensively, White’s scoring would have been a big lift.
This game was a great learning experience, though, as the Bulls have just played five games together as a mostly-new roster meshes. Chicago continues a tough stretch full of last year’s playoff teams as they take on the Utah Jazz Saturday, and surely these challenging nights will only make them stronger as a team.
Hopefully, sooner rather than later, Williams and White can join the squad and provide a big lift in a couple of key areas.