The Chicago Bulls fought back an early deficit to build up a double-digit lead in the first half of Monday night’s game, but their play regressed as the second half went on. The Bulls let their lead slip away from them, causing them to fall to 2-2 in preseason play with a 123-115 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Pelicans set the tone early on with Anthony Davis leading the way. He caused both Kirk Hinrich and Nikola Mirotic to get into early foul trouble — each had two fouls in the first quarter — but Aaron Brooks and Bobby Portis turned the game around for the Bulls.
In Portis’ seven first-quarter minutes, he had 11 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block. Brooks also added 11 points, and the two helped turn the Bulls’ seven-point deficit into a 12-point, 37-25 lead by the end of the quarter.
Brooks picked up his third foul at the start of the second quarter, and Mirotic would enter the game for Portis a few minutes later, but the Bulls were still able to hold up the lead built up earlier. Hinrich followed up a three from Doug McDermott with one of his own to give the Bulls the 49-37 lead before a timeout. Then, Mirotic went on to score the next nine points for the Bulls.
To put it simply, the Pelicans couldn’t get enough defensive stops to dig into their deficit significantly. They did, however, go on a 7-1 run to end the first half, but the Bulls still held a double-digit lead, 66-54. The Bulls appeared to still have the game in their control to open the third quarter with Mirotic getting a steal, Jimmy Butler burying a three and Pau Gasol knocking down jumpers, but then their offense dwindled.
After scoring nine minutes in the first two and a half minutes of the third, the Bulls scored 15 points in the remainder of the period. Meanwhile, the Pelicans scored 23 points in the same amount of time, leaving the game in favor of the Pelicans, 91-90, to end the quarter.
By the fourth quarter, the Bulls stopped executing their offense well. There was a lack of ball movement, and players began to settle for shots rather than try to get inside and use one another to find the best options. Their level of defense also declined, as the Bulls gave up 69 second-half points to the Pelicans.
Tony Snell rolled his ankle late in the game and was down holding his ankle for a little bit, but he was able to get up and appeared to walk OK. Joakim Noah sat out again with a minor knee bruise, but, according to the Chicago Tribune‘s K.C. Johnson, it was precautionary. Johnson also reported Derrick Rose was at the game, but watched from the locker room.
Portis led the Bulls with a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds to go along with an assist and three blocks. McDermott added a near double-double of 17 points and eight rebounds. Five other Bulls also scored in double and even won the rebounding battle, 52-40, but they committed twice as many turnovers as the Pelicans at 14 and gave up 26 fouls that led to 37 free throws for the Pelicans.
The Bulls are now 2-2 in preseason play and will be back on the hardwood on Wednesday, Oct. 14 when they face the Detroit Pistons at home.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.