Money can pay fines but can’t buy wins as Bulls fall to the Kings

Zach LaVine wasn’t the only Bull frustrated in the wake of the 110-101 loss Sunday, but he was definitely the most animated. That was evident with his late-game technical, even after he scored 41 points.

SHARE Money can pay fines but can’t buy wins as Bulls fall to the Kings
The Bulls’ Zach LaVine  is guarded by the Kings’ Davion Mitchell.

The Bulls’ Zach LaVine is guarded by the Kings’ Davion Mitchell.

Randall Benton/AP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The fine coming for his technical foul Sunday is loose change for Bulls guard Zach LaVine.

He was well aware of that after an offseason in which he signed a max contract worth $215 million over the next five years.

‘‘I’ll pay the tech fine,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘It ain’t hurting me.’’

But LaVine’s money can’t change the result of the Bulls’ 110-101 loss to the Kings. Their third consecutive loss dropped the Bulls to 9-14, and that — more than anything — is what makes LaVine hurt.

‘‘We’ve gotta figure it out one way or the other or we’re going to keep being down,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘We’ve got urgency. . . . We’ve got pride. It’s just going out there and executing it. We’ve got to find a rhythm out there.’’

Even in a game in which LaVine scored 41 points on 16-for-28 shooting from the field and helped hold the Kings below their usual scoring average, it’s that overall rhythm that remained the issue.

Once again, it was a familiar blueprint — one coach Billy Donovan can’t fully explain but would love to set ablaze in a trash can.

Outshot from three-point range? Check.

The Kings shot 15 three-pointers in the first quarter to the Bulls’ nine and were 10-for-30 from behind the arc by halftime, compared with the Bulls’ 5-for-11.

Careless with the basketball? Check.

The Bulls committed 11 turnovers in the second quarter alone, leading to 16 points by the Kings. The one saving grace was that the Bulls also had some busy hands on the defensive end in first half, forcing 13 turnovers by the Kings that led to 10 points.

And most damning: Digging a big hole early? Check.

The disparity in long-range shooting and the Bulls’ carelessness with the ball enabled the Kings to open an 18-point lead in the second quarter.

‘‘We’re coming [back] from, like, 19 and 20 points,’’ Donovan said of the ongoing issue of the Bulls falling behind. ‘‘It’s hard to come back like that.

‘‘We’ve got to do a better job of making decisions against closeouts. I think that would impact the three-point line. There’s times where guys are catching the ball, and we can shoot it. It would help us get more threes up.

‘‘The attention to detail, the consistency part, I think those things become critically important.’’

Like they have done so many times this season — and throughout most of their 2-4 road trip — the Bulls staged a nice comeback in the second half.

After trailing by 15 points at the break, the Bulls outscored the Kings 31-20 in the third quarter to cut that deficit to four.

They even got to within a basket in the fourth quarter, but those details again went out the nearest exit. LaVine wasn’t the only reason by any means, but he stood out.

First he committed a careless foul that put the Kings in the penalty. Then came the technical foul with 2:32 left with the Bulls trailing by 10 points at the time.

No wonder LaVine stormed off the court as the final horn sounded, going by his teammates without a high-five and entering the locker room.

‘‘I’ve been frustrated before,’’ LaVine said. ‘‘I’m trying to get myself going. Sometimes that carries over when you care a lot. Sometimes your emotions come out.

‘‘It’s us vs. everybody. No one is going to help us dig out of this besides us. That’s how we’ve got to go about it.’’

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