The Chicago Bulls season came to a close in the play-in, losing the final Eastern Conference play-in game to Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. It ended a disappointing season for the Bulls, who didn’t have Lonzo Ball the entire season and dropped many games they should have won. So, it’s time to recap the season. First in the series, the worst losses from the 2022-23 season:
@ San Antonio 129-124 (October 28)
This was the first game where you felt something was up. Sure, the Bulls lost to Washington and got blown out by Cleveland, but at least those were understandable under the circumstances. There was no excuse to lose to a bottom 3 team, even without Zach LaVine. No reason they should have scored 129 points.
The Bulls allowed the Spurs to shoot 42% from three, allowed them to get 37 assists, so there were many wide-open shooters, and worst of all only scored 10 points off 21 Spurs turnovers, compared to San Antonio scoring 30(!) off 13 Bulls turnovers.
vs. Orlando 108-107 (November 18)
This game completed a 4 game-losing streak. Chicago was down big to the Magic but were able to rally and come back when Billy Donovan finally played Javonte Green, and DeRozan went off. Leading by two, though, Vucevic missed two free throws, then Jalen Suggs came down and hit the game-winning three.
And the Bulls couldn’t answer with their last-second play of giving it to DeMar and praying. The Bulls fell to 6-10, and you could tell they were in trouble.
vs. New York 114-91 (December 16)
After losing a heartbreaker to the Knicks at home two days before in OT, the Bulls sought a chance for revenge. After a pretty even first half, the wheels fell off.
The Bulls turned the ball over 20 times, and the Knicks had a 32-8 free throw advantage and outrebounded the Bulls by 11. No player for Chicago scored more than 17 points.
@ Minnesota 150-126 (December 18)
One of the negative peaks of the Bulls’ season. They fell all the way to 7 games below .500 twice, and this was the first time. Giving up 150 points to any team is inexcusable, let alone a team that ended the season as the West’s 8 seed.
There was a reported rift in the locker room during this game too. Things were starting to look really bad for Chicago, missing their point guard and sitting at 11-18.
vs. Houston 133-118 (December 26)
Losses that came in the middle of good runs hurt the Bulls’ chances of really moving back up in the East. Take this game. Chicago had won 3 in a row and were looking to continue that streak. They lost to another bottom 3 team at home.
Now the defense was not as bad as it was against Minnesota, Houston was just really hot, and the offense was better, but the Bulls let Houston get a big run early in the first half and a big run early in the second half. They matched the first but not the second. They did not play with urgency at all times like they needed to.
@ Cleveland 145-134 OT (January 2)
blown double-digit leads by the Bulls this season.
@ Washington 100-97 (January 11)
The Bulls’ defense was outstanding in this game. The offense was not. DeMar was out, but Washington was missing both Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. Instead, the Bulls let Kyle Kuzma beat them. It was an ugly loss. The Bulls fouled way too much (21-9 free throw disparity) and got outrebounded by 13. This was a common theme in the Bulls’ losses.
vs. Oklahoma City 124-110 (January 13)
The Bulls had lost a heartbreaker at OKC earlier in the season. Here was a chance to bounce back from the Washington game with DeMar still sidelined. But the Bulls went down early, and while they made it close at different times, OKC was able to run away with it in the fourth. The Bulls’ fourth-quarter offense without DeRozan was awful, and they got swept by the second-youngest team in the NBA.
All three Pacers’ losses 116-110 (January 24), 117-113 (February 15), 125-122 (March 5)
These were just awful. 23, 21, and 12-point leads squandered to a very inexperienced Indiana team. The Bulls had no idea what to do when the Pacers made a run. They gave up both games in Indianapolis in the fourth quarter. The second road loss was amid a 6-game losing streak, where the Bulls got within a game of .500 then went back to 7 below, the second negative peak of the season. The final matchup was back and forth in the second half, and Tyrese Haliburton hit the dagger on Patrick Beverley. Losing the season series 3-1 when you are the better and more experienced team is a tough pill to swallow.
@ Charlotte 111-96 (January 26)
Another double-digit lead lost. This time a 12-0 run in the third quarter made the Bulls’ lead evaporate incredibly quickly, and then the Bulls went flat in the fourth quarter. The Bulls had not established a theme of playing down to their opponents; San Antonio, Houston, OKC, Indiana, Charlotte, etc. 96 points against a bottom-feeder was flat-out inexcusable.
@ Brooklyn 116-105 (February 9)
The Bulls played a Nets team in absolute shambles following the trade deadline, after they had made 0 moves…in this game, Zach LaVine got no help. He was the only starter with a positive +/-, scoring 38 points, but nobody else stepped up. Brooklyn doubled him in the fourth, and nobody could help him, and they won the game. A team that had just traded both its superstars and didn’t even have the guys they got back for KD yet beat the Bulls on the day Arturas Karnisovas preached continuity—the irony.
vs. Atlanta 123-105 (April 4)
After adding Beverley, the Bulls had mostly avoided bad losses, only having a home loss vs. Indiana. And they got to play Atlanta without Trae Young for a chance to get the tiebreaker and put them in the lead for the 8 seed. Naturally, they underestimated the opponent, came out flat, and their runs weren’t enough due to the Hawks’ wire-to-wire lead. It was embarrassing to lose at home to a team without their best player while in desperation mode.
@ Milwaukee 105-92 (April 5)
The next day the Bucks rested Giannis, and Middleton went out halfway through the first half. After the first 2.5 quarters were even, Milwaukee went on a run to take the lead, and the Bulls never recovered. DeRozan had his worst game of the season, not making a shot until the fourth quarter. This loss guaranteed the Bulls the 10 seed. Again, they couldn’t take advantage of a team missing its best player.
Play-in @ Miami 100-91 (April 14)