The Chicago Bulls’ third preseason game was a tale of two sides of the court.
During a 110-104 loss at Charlotte on Monday night, the Bulls’ defense seemed lost and confused for much of the night. The Hornets got too many easy baskets from their half-court offense, just with simple screen plays.
Without even watching the broadcast, one probably could guess that it’s a combination of poor fundamentals and not being on the same page as far as the game plan. At various times, the Bulls seemed unsure of whether to switch or give help.
The Bulls aren’t expecting to be one of the league’s best defensive teams. In the NBA, the basic goal is to contest shots and avoid open layups. So with a little better knowledge of the game plan, the Bulls might be able to take some relatively large steps forward early in the season.
On this night, it didn’t look good. Charlotte had 91 points by the end of three quarters, with all-star guard Kemba Walker knocking down 20 points in 28 minutes, while Bulls-killer Jeremy Lamb added 16.
The news was much better on the offensive end, where the Bulls started slowly but looked good at times. And it was probably a nice confidence boost after last week’s poor performance in Milwaukee.
Zach LaVine played the role of established scorer, finishing with 26 points. He attacked the basket successfully and knocked down 4 of 6 attempts from 3-point range. This is what the Bulls need from LaVine, especially early in the season while Lauri Markkanen is recovering from an elbow injury.
Bobby Portis provided reliable offense for the third straight preseason game, finishing with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. The Bulls’ top scorers combined for just 1 assist (by Portis), but the ultimate goal is to put points on the board.
Jabari Parker had an interesting night. He didn’t shoot it well, once again. But he did hit the boards and led the team with 11 rebounds.
Then after hitting 1 of 7 shots in the first half, Parker tried to assert himself by getting back to basics. Early in the third quarter, he soared over Charlotte center Cody Zeller for an impressive dunk. Then on his last basket, Parker blew past Marvin Williams for a driving dunk, finishing with 9 points and 3 assists in 27 minutes.
Whether or not he can survive at small forward remains a question, but Parker’s offense likely will improve as he settles in with his hometown team.
Elsewhere, guard Antonio Blakeney added 15 points and helped lead a fourth-quarter comeback. He missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 38.5 seconds left. Rookie Chandler Hutchison had a nice stat line, with 7 points and 8 rebounds in 26 minutes. Kris Dunn had 4 steals.
The Bulls have two preseason tests remaining, both at home. They’ll face Indiana on Wednesday and Denver on Friday.
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