Things just keep getting worse for the Chicago Bulls, who own the worst record in the NBA and failed to notch a win on their just-completed road trip while finishing in embarrassing fashion. The Bulls will try to put the pieces together at home when they host the Miami Heat on Sunday.
Chicago was competitive in losses at the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers to begin the trip but suffered through a 110-80 loss at Utah on Wednesday before going into Golden State on Friday and getting run over by the defending champions in a 143-94 drubbing. “From day one, even going back into September, the biggest thing we talked about as a team was fighting through tough times and handling adversity,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters. “We’ve seen this before where we put our heads down, we don’t fight through it and we start separating and lose trust in each other. That can’t continue to happen. If we don’t learn that soon, we’re going to keep getting our (butt) kicked.” The Heat pulled off their best win of the season by ending the Boston Celtics’ 16-game winning streak on Wednesday and avoided a letdown by going into Minnesota and toppling the Timberwolves 109-97 on Friday. Miami already has one win over the Bulls on the ledger this season and comes in solid on the defensive end after holding three of its last four opponents under 100 points.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), WGN (Chicago)
ABOUT THE HEAT (9-9): The Heat held Minnesota to 44 percent shooting on Friday and did their own damage from beyond the arc as Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and Wayne Ellington combined to go 13-of-19 from 3-point range. Ellington was 6-of-9 from beyond the arc en route to 21 points and took all of his field-goal attempts from 3-point range for the third time in the last four contests. The 29-year-old shooting guard is knocking down 43 percent of his 3-point attempts on the season and hit at least six in a game three times in 2017-18, including two of the last three games.
ABOUT THE BULLS (3-14): Rookie power forward Lauri Markkanen leads Chicago in scoring (14.6 points) but is shooting just 36.5 percent from the floor over the last 10 games and is 9-of-42 over the last three contests. “Defenses are keying on him,” Hoiberg said of Markkanen, according to the Chicago Tribune. “A lot of teams are switching with him. We have to read those situations better. We’re adding new things to our offense pretty much daily to try to get him in spots where he can be successful.” Point guard Jerian Grant, who lost his starting spot to Kris Dunn, led the Bulls with 21 points off the bench in Friday’s loss.
1. Heat C Hassan Whiteside is shooting 76.5 percent from the field over the last four games but is questionable for this one due to knee soreness.
2. Bulls PG Zach LaVine (knee) began participating in full contact practices this week and could make his season debut in mid-December.
3. Miami took the last two meetings and six of the last eight, including a 97-91 triumph at home on Nov. 1.
PREDICTION: Heat 106, Bulls 95