Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
MILWAUKEE --- The Chicago Bulls dropped to 4-7 following their 118-109 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night at FiServ Forum.
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Here are 10 observations from the loss:
---Alex Caruso missed his second straight game with a left toe sprain suffered last week in practice. Both Caruso and coach Billy Donovan said it’s likely Caruso plays later this week, either Wednesday or Friday at home against the Orlando Magic. “I’m just bored,” Caruso said. And the Bulls’ defense is challenged without him.
---For the second straight night, the Bulls missed their first eight shots. On Sunday night, the Bulls took 3 minutes, 27 seconds after tipoff to score. Monday night, Torrey Craig’s putback came 3:04 following tipoff.
---The woes continued. The Bulls finished the first quarter just 6-for-23 and trailed 35-18 after the opening period. Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 13 points and seven rebounds in the first period alone and finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds.
---The NBA is often called “a game of runs” and that certainly played out Monday. The Bucks opened the game on a 9-0 run, followed by the Bulls scoring eight straight points and then the Bucks opening up another 11-0 run. Then the Bulls opened the second quarter with a 9-0 run capped by Jevon Carter stealing the ball from Antetokounmpo and sinking a 3-pointer in transition. But the Bucks answered with a 10-0 run late in the second to take a 10-point halftime lead. The Bulls opened the second half with a 7-0 run and later took their first lead, only to be followed by the Bucks ripping off a 12-0 run.
---The Bulls had to be thankful only to be down 59-49 at halftime. Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan combined to miss their first nine shots. LaVine finally sank a shot at the 6:20 mark of the second quarter on a midrange jumper. DeRozan followed with a short bank shot at the 3:34 mark. They were a combined 2-for-16 at halftime.
"Zach did a really good job of getting downhill. He had stuff around the basket (he missed) and that's just a little bit uncharacteristic," Donovan said. "He's such an elite finisher.
"And I thought DeMar got to his spots like he normally has. I don't think they're necessarily getting different kind of shots. They're elite scorers and you always feel good when those guys shoot the ball."
---The Bulls scored 22 points off turnovers, continuing a season-long strength. They entered second in the NBA with 21.8 points per game scored off turnovers. And their elite ball security continued. They lead the NBA in fewest turnovers and committed just eight against the Bucks.
---DeRozan registered the assist of the season when he somehow found Coby White for a corner 3-pointer on a pass in which DeRozan spun almost completely around in air. It capped a wild sequence in which the Bulls missed three layups but kept pounding the offensive boards. It also came during a run in which the Bulls fully erased their first-half, 17-point deficit and took their first lead.
---The Bulls continue to shoot poorly to open this season. They finished third for third in the NBA last season by shooting 49 percent. They entered 25th at just 45 percent and finished at 38 percent against the Bucks. DeRozan and LaVine are well below their career percentages.
"I'm not concerned about it at well. Of course you want to be shooting well and right now, we're not. But we're getting a lot of great looks," DeRozan said. "We're getting more confident moving the ball, finding guys, getting open shots, getting aggressive going to the basket. We can't stop that and get frustrated.
"I'm confident because we're generating the shots we want. . . . I know it's going to turn for me and Zach, for everybody."
To LaVine's credit, he filled the box score with eight rebounds, five assists and 8-for-8 from the line. But obviously, both players need to shoot better for the Bulls to succeed. DeRozan finished 3-for-14, while LaVine shot 5-for-19. LaVine is an elite finisher and missed all five attempts in the restricted area.
"It's not like we're getting good ones," LaVine said. "We got to stick with it, trust our work. It's frustrating because you expect yourself to do better.
"I didn't make any damn layups. They'll start dropping. I trust what I do."
DeRozan even broke out a guarantee.
"It won't happen again," he said. "Simple as that. I don't make too many guarantees. But when I do, it tends to work in my favor."
---For the second straight game, Donovan closed with Patrick Williams. This despite an extremely active game from Craig, who finished with eight points and 12 rebounds and kept alive several possessions with offensive rebounds. Williams played aggressively after a quiet night on Sunday, finishing with 13 points and three rebounds. He also played strong defense down the stretch. Donovan said closing with Williams was largely a result of Caruso's absence and because he liked how Williams defended Antetokounmpo.
---The loss wasted a strong night from Nikola Vucevic, who finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Vucevic has six double-doubles on the young season.