The Bulls lost a tough one in their 2019-2020 season opener Wednesday evening to a rebuilding Charlotte Hornets team 125-126.
The defense was the main issue for most of the game as the Bulls were late rotating on ball movement especially around the perimeter and the Hornets hit their open shots. However, the Bulls did change that narrative early in the second half and built a ten-point lead with about seven minutes to play in the fourth, but failed to keep it going long enough to earn the victory. The Bulls 126 points allowed was the most all-time in a season opener.
Lauri Markkanen had 35 points (13-25 FG) and 17 rebounds. He was aggressive with the ball from the opening tip, but despite being known for his outside shooting, he was only 1-7 from the arc. Either way, it was still a strong performance in the season opener for the Bulls’ young star.
Rookie point guard Coby White looked impressive in his first professional appearance. He wasn’t afraid to attack the basket or shoot it from deep. White finished the game with 17 points, seven assists, and three rebounds. His seven assists were two more than he had in the entire preseason and things should only get better for him with more playing time.
White’s backcourt co-star Kris Dunn was a defensive agitator all night jumping into pass lanes on defense and attacked the rim when the ball was in his hands.
“I thought Kris Dunn was great tonight,” Head coach Jim Boylen told the media after the game. Dunn had 11 points, four steals, and two assists on 5-7 shooting in 24 minutes of play.
Despite the solid efforts from Markkanen, White, and Dunn, forward Zach LaVine struggled out of the gate converting on just 1 – 7 field goals in the first half. LaVine wasn’t too discouraged, however, and continued to attack in the second half, finishing the game with 16 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and two steals.
The Bulls still have a lot to learn from their season-opening loss and Boylen touched on that in the post-game press conference.
“I thought we battled back down sixteen in the second quarter. We had a good talk at half time and we scored 40 in the third and got ourselves back in the game.” Boylen explained when asked about his team’s overall performance.
“We were kind of in mud early and I didn’t think defensively we had the edge we needed early, and then we kind of picked it up and grew as the game went on. And then we gotta do a better job of executing down the stretch.”
As disappointing of a loss as it was, this is a very talented and athletic Bulls roster and it’s just the first game of the year. Hopefully, they do a better job of executing late when they take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.