The matchup between the Clippers and the Bulls brought two teams with identical records of eight wins and four losses together on the court. However, they also brought different levels of momentum that powered them to their successful records — while the Clippers had a winning streak of seven, the Bulls won only two of their last five games prior to tonight’s matchup. The momentum from both sides did not carry over in the Clippers’ 100-90 loss against the Bulls.
The Clippers started the game like a team without a day of rest, totaling 10 first-quarter turnovers compared to just three for the Bulls. DeMar DeRozan caused many matchup issues for them on defense, easily rising up over defenders small and large for his signature mid-range jump shot.
The Clippers improved their defense as halftime drew closer, but so did the Bulls. While players like Reggie Jackson and Paul George failed to connect on some easy looks, the Bulls’ stifling perimeter defense limited the number of open shots that they could take advantage of. They ended up shooting just 38 percent from the field compared to 50 percent for the Bulls, suggesting that the nine-point deficit the Clippers’ suffered at the half was not nearly as much as it could have been.
At first, the second half seemed to be more of the same, with both teams evenly competing without a major change in the deficit. However, as we’ve seen in countless Clipper games before, a third-quarter run brought the team right back into it. While a new defensive scheme limited the damage the Bulls could do on offense, the Clippers also finally began to hit the shots they’ve consistently made throughout their multi-game win streak. Oh, and George started hitting shots like this one:
Despite securing a one-point lead early in the fourth, the Clippers found themselves down by single digits for much of the quarter. The seasoned roster led by George never panics in the face of a late game deficit, but critical misses and miraculous jumpers from DeRozan and Zach LaVine secured a win for the Bulls.
All winning streaks come to an end, and seven is impressive for a team missing their star player in Kawhi Leonard, but tonight’s loss did show some slight deficiencies in individual perimeter defense and inside scoring. Now, the Clippers will look forward to starting a new streak when hosting the Spurs before leaving for Memphis and New Orleans on a two game road trip.