Offense costs Bulls in overtime loss to Pelicans

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Pelicans forward Anthony Davis (23) and Chicago Bulls forward Paul Zipser (16) go for the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)

What happened to the Bulls’ offense on Saturday night will happen again. There will be games when the ball doesn’t go in and things grind to a halt.

Coach Fred Hoiberg understands that’s part of life during the rebuild, and it’s why the Bulls lost 96-90 in overtime to the Pelicans at the United Center. They made only 35 of 99 shots from the field, including 11 of 42 from three-point range.

But Hoiberg stressed something else after the game.

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“I’m proud of our guys for competing when the ball wasn’t going in the hoop and giving ourselves a chance,” he said. “We had a great chance to win it there at the end, missing a couple right at the rim, but they continued to battle and do everything that we’re asking of them.

“We’re going to have nights like this on the offensive end. Had a few of them obviously this year, but if we can battle like that defensively, we’re going to have a chance most nights.”

The Bulls had a chance but couldn’t convert and were unable to win consecutive games after beating the Magic on Friday in Orlando.

With less than 10 seconds left and the game tied at 83, Robin Lopez had an opportunity to give the Bulls the lead but missed two shots from inside the paint.

Jrue Holiday’s jumper for New Orleans with four seconds left was short, and the Bulls grabbed the rebound and called a timeout. Lopez got the inbound pass, but DeMarcus Cousins blocked the shot and snuffed out the Bulls’ chance to win at the buzzer.

“[Lopez] was disappointed in himself, but we all had opportunities to make a shot or make a play down the stretch that could have won us the game,” said Jerian Grant, who had 13 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and no turnovers.

In overtime, the Bulls trailed by five with 1:35 left and had three shots on their next possession but missed all three. Jameer Nelson then made a three-pointer over Lauri Markkanen with 48.9 seconds left to seal the game.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win but didn’t make the right plays,” Markkanen said.

Markkanen, who’ll stay in the starting lineup Tuesday whether Bobby Portis returns or not, struggled to find his shot, going 5-for-16 from the field. He had 14 points and seven rebounds while contending with Anthony Davis and Cousins. Davis had 27 points and 16 rebounds; Cousins had 25 points and 11 rebounds.

“I know I can shoot, so I keep believing that the next shot’s going in, and I feel like I had open looks today,” Markkanen said. “Just didn’t make them.”

Markkanen didn’t make a lot of shots, and his teammates didn’t, either. That was frustrating for them, but they echoed Hoiberg’s thoughts otherwise. Their defense and rebounding kept them competitive when points were hard to find.

“I think we’ve been locked in [defensively],” Lopez said.

In their last three games, the Bulls haven’t allowed more than 97 points.

“Tonight, we did have some good looks,” Hoiberg said. “They didn’t go down, but give our guys credit for continuing to battle.”

Follow me on Twitter @BrianSandalow.

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