At least the Bulls didn’t relinquish a fourth-quarter lead this time.
After taking a 6-5 advantage less than two minutes into the game, the Bulls missed the next three attempts, the Pacers’ Malcolm Brodgon drove for a dunk and the Pacers never trailed on their way to a 108-95 win Sunday.
“Playing 1-on-1, we’re letting guys drive,” Thaddeus Young told NBC Sports Chicago. “They’re straight-line driving us and there’s no help. The guy on the ball has to do a better job. That’s not saying anybody on the team. That’s myself included. We gotta man up and make sure we take care of business.”
Here are four observations from the loss that dropped the Bulls to 2-5.
First of all, with T.J. Warren, T.J. Leaf and T.J. McConnell, how many T.J.s does one team need? Apparently one more than Holiday brothers Justin and Aaron ( a trade for Jrue would complete the set).
Warren had a game-high 26 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists. Psst, no one tell Bulls coach Jim Boylen, but Warren was working that mid-range game to great effect, making all but one of his 10 shots inside the arc and still shooting 62.5%. Take that, analytics.
Leaf, a backup big man, had his way inside — as did Brodgon and everyone else who contributed to the Pacers’ 52 points in the paint — and posted just his second career double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds.
McConnell had four assists and had a steal.
Tomas Satoransky had four errant passes. Zach LaVine lost the ball driving the lane and then caused another turnover came when he dribbled the ball off his foot. Three giveaways came on offensive fouls.
A couple of the worst-looking turnovers could be tied to Kris Dunn.
The Pacers were having trouble containing Wendell Carter Jr. around the rim, so it made sense for Dunn to run a pick-and-roll with Carter during a second-quarter play. But Dunn’s lob hit off the backboard and ended up in Aaron Holiday’s hands instead of Carter’s.
Dunn was plain careless on an inbound pass to Ryan Arcidiacono, which was picked off by McConnell.
However, while 18 turnovers were a season high, the Bulls are tied with the Pacers for the second best turnover rate at 13.3 per game. And some of the lost balls Sunday were drives to the basket where there was contact.
“I thought we got stripped a bunch of times in the paint,” Boylen said. “Maybe they were fouls, maybe they were not, but we have to be stronger with it. And we talked about it at halftime. There’s defensive toughness but there’s offensive toughness, too, and I thought we were lacking at both ends tonight.”
Porter missed nine of his 10 tries from the field (1 of 4 from 3-point range) and White blanked on all six of his attempts.
White also dribbled into situations that he couldn’t bail himself out of, something he has done other times this season. During a first-quarter sequence, the rookie picked up his dribble against a double team, looked for somewhere to pass and had Leaf poke the ball away while he wasn’t looking.
In the third, White grabbed a rebound and ran the length of the court, only for Leaf to swat the layup attempt, which started a Pacers fast break that Warren finished with his own layup.
Meanwhile, Porter sprained his ankle, though he continued to play.
Markkanen is shooting just 25% on 3-point attempts, well below his career average of 35.5%. Against the Pacers, he missed his first three shots, all from behind the arc.
While Markkanen tries to he course-correct, Boylen has been encouraging him to be more aggressive.
“He can make a contested 3 but I think there are opportunities to shot fake and put it down,” Boylen said via NBC Sports Chicago. “I thought he did that and got to the line. When you see the ball go in, it helps you.”
Markkanen made four of five free-throw attempts and finished with 11 points.