The Chicago Bulls and host Charlotte Hornets ought to be frustrated teams when they meet on Thursday night.
But the agitations come for different reasons.
The Bulls lost 116-110 on Tuesday night at Indiana, with a three-game winning streak ending when they couldn’t protect a 21-point lead.
“I don’t know what the right word is — disappointed, frustrated,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “These difficult losses, it also makes you understand what you’ve got to do, and we have not been able to make a decision to do that, quite honestly — what we all have to do collectively. It’s not one player. It’s not one thing. It’s a multitude of things.”
The Hornets will be back home from a 2-2 trip that concluded with blowout losses to Utah and Phoenix on back-to-back nights.
“A tough trip. The effort was good all the way through. I think there are things we can build on,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. “Before we get two days off, we have one more Thursday.”
The Bulls might be missing chances to make more gains in the Eastern Conference standings. The Charlotte game will mark the seventh contest in a row against an opponent currently with a .500 record or worse.
Donovan said when the stakes seem to rise during a game, the Bulls don’t always react with a higher level of play.
“We’ve got to get lost in competition,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to embrace the competition. You’ve got to love being in those situations and the grind of it.”
The Bulls haven’t put together a four-game winning streak all season.
“I like this group,” Donovan said. “We’ve got a high-character group. We’ve got to be able to fight to overcome some of this stuff.”
The result of the game in Indiana was stinging.
“We didn’t do enough things in the game in terms of taking care of the basketball, in terms of rebounding the basketball,” Donovan said. “The intensity level, as it got raised, we were not able to respond and play at that level. We’ve got to be able to find ways to do that.”
Similar to how they were when they embarked on their trip, the Hornets are a wounded bunch. Gordon Hayward missed the Phoenix game with a hamstring strain, joining LaMelo Ball and Cody Martin on the sidelines.
Charlotte gave up 22 baskets from 3-point range at Phoenix. The Hornets made just six 3-pointers.
“When you get Melo Ball and Gordon Hayward back with Cody Martin, that takes care of a lot of that,” Clifford said of the team’s perimeter shooting. “A lot of that is just personnel-based.”
The Bulls have been without backup guard Goran Dragic because of non-COVID illness.
The Bulls own a 106-88 home victory against Charlotte from Nov. 2. That result gave Chicago a 5-4 record, but the Bulls lost the next game and haven’t been above .500 again.
Kelly Oubre Jr., who is out with a hand injury, was the game’s top scorer that night with 24 points for the Hornets.
–Field Level Media