Four big concerns to come out of a four-game Bulls trip gone wrong
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It wasn’t exactly the four-game trip coach Fred Hoiberg was hoping for.
Forget the 0-4 record or that the Bulls lost the four games on the West Coast swing by an average of 24 points.
The effort they displayed throughout the preseason and into the start of the regular season seemed to fizzle out. That’s what really discouraged Hoiberg.
“We’ve seen this before where we put our heads down, we don’t fight through it and we start separating and lose trust in each other,’’ Hoiberg told reporters after the 143-94 throttling suffered Friday against the Warriors.
“That can’t continue to happen. If we don’t learn that soon, we’re going to keep getting our butts kicked.’’
Hoiberg knows the Bulls are taking the floor on a nightly basis facing a talent deficit, so they can’t afford a lack of effort. That’s how Hoiberg will be judged this season. It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about playing hard for the brand and the coach.
Aside from three quarters in Los Angeles on Tuesday, that didn’t happen.
There were some other issues, as well:
1. Off the Markkanen
Welcome to the NBA, rook. For the first time this season, the game didn’t look so easy for Lauri Markkanen.
The baby unicorn had a strong showing in Phoenix, then shot only 9-for-42 (21 percent) from the field in the last three games, feeling a bit under the weather and definitely looking like he had hit his first rookie wall of the season.
A day off Saturday is hopefully the best remedy, but the Finnish 7-footer needs a big game to get out of the rut and regain some confidence.
2. Dunn deal
Like Markkanen, Kris Dunn had a strong game against the Suns, was named the starter in Los Angeles, then finished off the road trip with two shaky performances.
Dunn is there for his defense, but letting Steph Curry light him up for 33 points in 27 minutes was a step back for the second-year guard.
His offense is still in search of some consistency, but the defense has to be there on a nightly basis. The nice thing about Dunn is he has a short memory to go along with a ton of confidence.
3. No ‘D’ in Boylen
Assistant Jim Boylen was brought over to help coach the defense. With Jimmy Butler gone and Tom Thibodeau’s defensive philosophy gone with him, this defense is a Boylen production.
The Bulls rank 23rd in the league, allowing 107.3 points per game. Led by Butler last season, they were sixth, allowing 102.4 points.
Much of the defense used the previous two seasons was based on many Thibodeau tenets, so maybe it’s time for Boylen to swallow some pride and go back to it. What he’s doing now isn’t working.
4. Holiday road
Justin Holiday would be a nice rotation player on a playoff team. But expecting him to be the key contributor is asking a bit much, as the road trip showed (he shot a combined 13-for-49).
What happens to the starting lineup once Zach LaVine is ready to make his season debut in mid-December?
Does Hoiberg slide Holiday to the three, benching Denzel Valentine? Does he move Holiday to the bench and let Valentine continue to develop?
There are no easy answers, and they aren’t getting any easier, either.
Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.