Bulls, Zach LaVine struggle in season-opening loss to Thunder – NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls began their season with a disappointing 124-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night at the United Center.

Here are ten key takeaways from the game:

1. Zach LaVine had a rough night, shooting 4-for-16 and committing four turnovers and three fouls. Despite making all six of his first-quarter free throws, LaVine couldn’t find his rhythm offensively and struggled with decision-making and ball security.

2. Nikola Vucevic had a decent game with 11 points and nine rebounds but expressed frustration on the bench after being pulled in the third quarter. He went through a stretch without attempting a shot and received a technical foul for showing his frustration on a defensive breakdown.

3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander proved to be a star as he tormented the Bulls’ defense throughout the game. He exploited screen-and-roll situations to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates, finishing with 31 points and 10 assists.

4. The Bulls struggled from beyond the arc, shooting just 12-for-42 from 3-point range. Torrey Craig’s missed wide-open corner 3-pointer symbolized their overall shooting woes. In contrast, the Thunder connected on 19 of their 39 attempts from deep.

5. LaVine had a particularly tough time in the first half, missing his first five shots and committing turnovers and fouls. His offensive struggles were magnified by a foul called after a successful challenge from Thunder coach Mark Daigneault.

6. Andre Drummond made his presence known with a dunk and a steal in his short stint during the first half. However, he also received a technical foul for hanging on the rim after his dunk.

7. The game featured three rare technical fouls. Drummond’s was for hanging on the rim, Lu Dort of the Thunder received one for flopping, and Vucevic got one for throwing the ball in frustration.

8. Coby White picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter, but Bulls coach Billy Donovan took a risk by keeping him in the game. White managed to play without picking up a third foul until later in the quarter.

9. Donovan used a 10-man rotation, but Ayo Dosunmu saw limited playing time. Donovan later adjusted his rotations to give DeMar DeRozan minutes against Thunder reserves.

10. The Bulls prioritize keeping Alex Caruso healthy due to his aggressive style of play. While there’s no set minutes limit, the team aims to keep him in the mid-20 range to protect him and ensure he is available for games.

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