Failure to hit threes costs Bulls in latest ‘L’
NEW YORK — On the same day that Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls’ executive vice president of basketball operations, put his faith in keeping the team together at the trade deadline, the Bulls repaid that faith with an ugly loss.
Facing the Nets, who had been stripped of star power over the previous 48 hours with the trades of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the underachieving Bulls (26-29) were shot out of the arena, falling 116-105. The defeat came just hours after Karnisovas said he felt the Bulls’ inconsistent three-point shooting wouldn’t be a major issue the rest of the season.
“Yes, we’d like to bring the three-point rate up more,” Karnisovas said. “But I think we’re still making [threes] at a very good rate.”
Not against the Nets (33-22), who went 17-for-44 (38.6%) from three-point range. The Bulls didn’t hit their first three until Zach LaVine nailed one with 5:40 left in the third quarter. They finished 5-for-26 (19.2%). That won’t get it done, and neither will passive basketball on both ends of the floor to start the game. Coach Billy Donovan has been warning his players about it, but it’s still happening.
“Every single day that goes by, we have less opportunity to take on this challenge,” veteran forward DeMar DeRozan said. “The room for error is getting slimmer and slimmer. It’s on us to realize it.”
DeRozan seemed to compare the Bulls’ situation to a marriage — one that may require counseling.
“When you’re in a relationship . . . through sickness and health, you stick together,” he said. “That’s how I look at it when I’m with a group of guys. Through sickness and health, ’til death do us part.”
LaVine, who finished with a game-high 38 points, took it a step further.
“It’s us versus everybody,” he said.
Center Nikola Vucevic said this week that he wants to stay in Chicago but also knows his value if he makes it to the freeagent market this summer. Karnisovas sounded confident about at least attempting to re-sign Vucevic.
“He’s having an unbelievable year,” Karnisovas said. “And you know we want him to be here.”
But at what price? The Pacers seemed to establish the market on centers two weeks ago when they extended Myles Turner for two years at just under $60 million.
“It’s pretty well known around the league what I can do, what I bring to the table,” Vucevic said. “That’s great for Myles, but I don’t try and compare myself to other guys where, ‘Hey, this is what he got, this is what I should get.’ . . . I’m more individual in the way I think about it.’’
Karnisovas said guard Lonzo Ball is “making small improvements” in his ongoing recovery from issues with his left knee and that the Bulls would probably have more information to share after All-Star weekend. All indications are that Ball will be officially shut down for the season at that point.