Fri, 27 May 2022

Shorthanded Bulls look to get on track against Thunder

Field Level Media
24 Jan 2022, 18:40 GMT+10

After a hot start to the season, the Chicago Bulls have struggled over the last two weeks.

Heading into Monday's game at the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Bulls have dropped seven of their last nine.

Sunday's loss might have been Chicago's worst of the season, a 114-95 loss to Orlando, who came with the NBA's worst record.

Even severely short-handed -- Chicago was down six players who have a combined 113 starts this season -- Bulls coach Billy Donovan was frustrated with his team's performance and said they needed to get back to the habits that helped them to a 26-10 start.

"There's things that we can control and you may get beat by a better team but the things that we need to control we just did not do a good enough job of controlling," Donovan said. "I can sit there and talk about who's not playing but for the guys that are playing, how well can we manage and handle the things that we can take care of?"

Monday's game will give Chicago another chance to work through that, as the Thunder have the third-fewest wins in the NBA and the Bulls will once again be short-handed, with Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso -- the latest addition to the Bulls' length injury report -- remaining out, among others.

Sunday, Milwaukee's Grayson Allen was suspended for a game for the flagrant 2 foul that resulted in Caruso suffering a fractured wrist in Friday's game.

But the Bulls figure to get some help back soon.

Zach LaVine and Javonte Green are expected to join the team in Oklahoma City and both could play Monday. Green has missed the last 12 games with a right adductor strain and LaVine the last five with left knee soreness.

LaVine's return would be especially important for Chicago, as he's the Bulls' second-leading scorer, averaging 24.9 points per game, and No. 3 on the team in assists with 4.2.

Chicago had a season-low 10 assists in Sunday's loss.

Monday's game, the first of two between the Bulls and Thunder this season, was originally scheduled for Wednesday but moved up due to December's COVID-19 postponements.

Oklahoma City has lost five consecutive games and 10 of its last 11.

The Thunder, which has struggled defensively through much of their recent slide, is coming off one of their better defensive performances of the season in Saturday's 94-87 loss at Cleveland. Oklahoma City completed that four-game road trip winless.

Kenrich Williams has been a key bench piece for the Thunder this season.

After missing five games, Williams was strong against the Cavaliers and figures to be a key Monday night as Oklahoma City opens a three-game homestand.

"He's just a game-changer," said Aaron Wiggins, a shooting guard for the Thunder. "He's one of those guys that you have to go to whenever you need any type of momentum or anything. He'll do whatever it takes to put a team in position to win."

The Thunder's Derrick Favors is listed as out with lower back soreness. Favors has missed four consecutive games.

--Field Level Media

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