Bulls must draw on bounceback mentality after latest crushing loss

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K.C. Johnson
·3 min read
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Bulls must again prove bounceback mentality originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Look out, Knicks?

That has to be the mindset of the Bulls after Dame Time happened Saturday night at the United Center.

In one of the most amazing individual finishes in United Center history -- and, yes, we know one of the two three-peats happened there -- Damian Lillard sank a 37-foot 3-pointer and a 26-foot buzzer-beater with Lauri Markkanen draped all over him to catapult the Trail Blazers to a most unlikely 123-122 victory.

So what do the Knicks have to do with this? Well, they arrive Monday for two straight game against the Bulls.

And given that Saturday’s loss has leapfrogged its way to the most crushing defeat in a season already filled with painful ones, the Bulls’ recent history can’t be ignored.

After Damion Lee’s 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left trumped Zach LaVine’s late heroics in a gut-wrenching loss to the Warriors, the Bulls won two straight games in Washington against the Wizards.

Then, after blowing a 22-point lead to lose to the Thunder in overtime, the Bulls rebounded to win three straight.

“Like I’ve said many times, we’ve got a great group of guys who stick together and fight for each other,” said Lauri Markkanen, who scored a season-high 31 points with six 3-pointers. “So that’s what we just got to keep doing. Sick together and not go on our own ways and just keep grinding, man. We’re going to turn it around.”

The Bulls appeared to with a strong fourth quarter, erasing a 19-point deficit to take command behind Markkanen and LaVine, who finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists. But rarely have such strong 12 minutes been followed by such painful 12 seconds.

Lillard’s first 3-pointer came over Coby White, who had just sank two free throws with 11.5 seconds left for a five-point lead. That his second came after LaVine became the first Bull since Elton Brand in February 2000 with six or more turnovers in three straight games made it all the more difficult.

Quick whistle for the jump ball or not, the Bulls were left with a timeout in the bag and questions about LaVine’s ball security. It’s the seventh time this season a Bulls opponent has scored 25 or more points off turnovers.

“You should be upset. Everybody shows human nature. You just gotta rewire your brain to get ready for the next one,” LaVine said. “But yeah, it hurts being on the side of a loss like that where you think you have the game wrapped up and you fought back and put yourself in position to win.

“You get in the locker room and obviously everybody’s disappointed. We were up 5 points with 11 seconds to go. You should win the game. It didn’t happen. You have somebody like Dame come down and do that. It sucks. But you know you made strides and we gotta win the next couple games.”

The Bulls have come a long way from the roll-over-and-play-dead nature of their first two losses. That doesn’t make this dramatic loss any easier, nor should it. While complimenting a hot start, the fourth-quarter play and resilience shown in rallying, coach Billy Donovan mostly painted a negative picture of his team’s performance.

“He’s trying to hold us to a championship standard,” LaVine said.

Look out, Knicks?

RELATED: Donovan, LaVine disagree with jump ball call in Blazers loss

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