Bulls can’t grab win in Doug McDermott’s return to Omaha
For the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks, Thursday night’s game at the CenturyLink Center Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska was the end of preseason, another game to prepare for the oncoming regular season. For the city of Omaha, the Bulls-Hawks match-up was more than just a preseason game, as it was the return of former Bluejays Doug McDermott and Kyle Korver.
Regardless of how the game turned out, the crowd at the C-Link was going to win, getting to witness two Creighton greats face off in their college hometown. But only one team could actually go home the winners, and the Bulls ruined that chance with their inefficient offense, losing to the Hawks 97-81.
Head coach Fred Hoiberg didn’t start McDermott like he had thought about, instead going with his usual preseason starting lineup of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez. They held their own against Atlanta’s lineup of Dennis Schroder, Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard.
The Bulls finally managed to not get out to a slow start, getting on the board first. But the Hawks stayed aware, keeping up with their opponents. With no spectacular plays and a game of traded baskets to start, the crowd at the CenturyLink Center Omaha was calm. But when the 7:39 mark came and a buzzer went off to signal a substitution, the crowd rejoiced: Doug McDermott checked in for Wade, marking his first time playing in Omaha since 2014.
Not long after that, both teams found themselves in a scoring drought, but Atlanta found their offense first. The Hawks used a 7-0 run get ahead, and not only did that give them the lead for the rest of the quarter.
With just 18 second-quarter points, the Bulls trailed 44-39 heading into halftime. The Hawks also struggled to score in the second quarter, scoring just 19 points total, but their 7-0 run from the first quarter made up for that.
The Bulls opened up the third quarter on a strong note, though. They went on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 48. Gibson’s made jumper gave the Bulls the 50-48 lead, their first of the game since their 15-14 lead in the first quarter. But the it was short-lived.
The Hawks regained their lead when Korver made a 25-foot 3-pointer at the 7:26 mark of the game and maintained it throughout the period.
Michael Carter-Williams, who made his Bulls preseason debut in the first quarter, gave Chicago some hope at the start of the fourth quarter. He made a pair of free throws to cut their deficit to four points. During the Bulls’ next possession, Carter-Williams missed his driving layup, but it made way for Bobby Portis to get the tip for the 68-66 deficit. That was as close as they got, though. Atlanta’s offense was just too much more efficient while Chicago couldn’t get the necessary defensive stops or match Atlanta’s scoring.
For the night, The Bulls shot just 30.5 percent from the field, allowing the Hawks to connect on 47.1 percent of their shots. They also lost the rebounding battle 55-45 but managed to commit eight less turnovers than the Hawks at 10.
Butler led all scorers with 18 points despite shooting just 5-for-16 from the field. McDermott was the team’s second-leading scorer with 16 points and also shot poorly, going just 5-of-15.
Chicago finished preseason play at 3-4 and will begin the regular season Thursday, Oct. 29 against the Boston Celtics.
A previous version of this article misspelled Dennis Schroder’s name. The Bulls Charge apologizes for this error.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.