The Chicago Bulls (23-26) were unsuccessful at getting into rhythm against the weakest stretch of the season, when they played the Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic. Beginning the week at a measly 21-24, the underperforming Bulls went 2-2 over the stretch and continued playing sub-.500 ball.
After a huge win against the Pistons in Paris, France last week, the Bulls had time to regroup and start a much-needed win streak against rebuilding teams, which has been difficult this season.
The Bulls have struggled to open up long winning streaks this season, only accumulating three three-game win streaks in 2022-23.
Chicago continues to play down to lesser competition halfway through the season. The Bulls fell apart in the fourth quarter against the Pacers, allowing their divisional rival to score 36 points in the final frame, resulting in a 116-110 loss in Indiana.
The Bulls led 87-80 after the third, and once led by 21 points in the game. Zach LaVine was costly in the loss, turning the ball over four times and scoring zero points in the final 12 minutes.
More importantly, the Bulls’ 15-point loss to the 15-36 Hornets is one of the worst defeats of the entire season. Similar to the disappointing loss against the Pacers, the Bulls fell apart in the final quarter against the Hornets, being outscored 34-17, resulting in the team’s 111-96 loss Jan. 26.
With LaMelo Ball returning from injuries and a three-game absence, the Hornets depended on Terry Rozier and Mason Plumlee having solid performances. Plumlee was dominant down low, making all nine shots, while Nikola Vučević struggled to do the same. Vuc was ice cold from deep, missing all six shots from beyond the arc. Rozier led all scorers with 28 points in the win.
The Bulls’ inability to defeat another team below .500 shows the team’s lack of urgency and focus in games. The Bulls tend to overlook these opponents, which has resulted in consistent upsets.
Losing by double-digits to the Hornets is inexcusable.
Looking ahead, the Bulls enter a four-game home stretch against the Los Angeles Clippers, look for payback against the Hornets, and then face two more western conference opponents in the first weekend of February.
The Bulls are 13-10 at home this season, a significantly better mark than on the road.
Arturas Karnišovas has a lot to debate over the next week. With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, time is running out for this Bulls team to turn it around. Additionally, health has been a non-factor recently, as only Javonte Green and Lonzo Ball have been consistently on the injured list.
The team that was built to be a contender in the top-heavy Eastern Conference is quickly descending on the front office that created the roster. Changes need to be made.