Bulls can’t get over the hump in loss to Clippers

Heading into the game, veteran guard Garrett Temple was hoping his young teammates would continue to do the little things it takes to win. It didn’t happen.

SHARE Bulls can’t get over the hump in loss to Clippers

The hump was waiting for the Bulls on Friday at the United Center.

And all the concerns veteran guard Garrett Temple had going into the game against the Clippers became reality.

Young teams must learn how to get over that hump or stay stuck behind it. The Bulls did the latter, losing 125-106.

‘‘I think we’re in a situation where we’re right at that hump where you just have to continue to push and push and push and do these little things,’’ Temple said as the Bulls entered a portion of their schedule against a handful of playoff teams. ‘‘A team that’s learning how to win, you always come to a point like this — whether it’s early in the season, middle of the season or late in the season — when you have the tools, you know what you need to do and it’s just a matter of executing what you need to do on a consistent basis. I think that’s where we’re at.’’

Not doing the little things doomed them against the Clippers.

Careless turnovers, too many lost offensive possessions and head-scratching defense that enabled the Clippers to get to their spots easily were too much to overcome. The Clippers shot 58% (50-for-86).

So as much as Temple and veteran forward Thad Young try to reiterate the essentials of winning to their teammates, there are many nights when the young Bulls (10-15) might not be listening.

‘‘The losses we’ve had — two-point losses, three-point losses, four-point losses — they all are predicated on so many little things that we could have done better that we had control over,’’ Temple said. ‘‘You may have times where you see something on the court that should have been second nature, but then you remember these guys are 19, 20, 21 [years old], two, three, four years in the league. It’s not something that comes second nature. You have to learn how to win in this league.’’

It was a lesson Clippers star Kawhi Leonard had no problem teaching the Bulls. With 19-year-old rookie Patrick Williams guarding him for a good part of the night, Leonard finished with 33 points on 14-for-21 shooting.

And while guard Zach LaVine had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists, coach Billy Donovan saw too many lost possessions in the second half.

‘‘I don’t want to say we stagnated,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘We just didn’t generate enough quality possessions in that second half on offense.

‘‘I definitely think, for most teams, offensive possessions certainly impact defense. I thought the one thing that did make it hard for us defensively when we did have those possessions on offense, they were quick possessions. It was, like, one pass or no pass [before shooting], and if you don’t make those shots, you’re back having to guard again. . . .

‘‘I don’t think there’s any question that our offense impacted our defense.’’

Then factor in that the Bulls’ frontcourt is still short-handed, which means poor starts such as the one center Daniel Gafford turned in (two points, four turnovers in eight minutes) create a domino effect that doesn’t help.

‘‘We didn’t play that well offensively or defensively, like we did against [Wednesday] against New Orleans,’’ said guard Tomas Satoransky, who scored a season-high 17 points. ‘‘We didn’t play to our identity.’’

The Latest
Oronde Hardy, 50, is charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in the attack.
Four people were shot Monday evening. Two have died. Trivell Pruitt, 53, is being held in the attack Monday in the 7100 block of South State Street. A second shooter remains at large.
The 24-year-old was arguing and fighting with two people inside a home in the 7900 block of South Paulina Street when someone pulled out a gun and shot him about 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
If you want to know if I think J.B. Pritzker, in his second term as Illinois governor, will one day run for president, I do. It’s nothing he said. I’m just reading the tea leaves.
Manager Craig Counsell provided an expected timeline for Bellinger’s first 2024 spring-training game.