Bulls Fall to Clippers 112-106

The Bulls Tuesday were unable to overcome the inside strength of the Los Angeles Clippers and lost to the Clippers 112-106.

The Bulls dropped to 22-44. The Clippers in a race for a playoff spot in the Western Conference are 37-29/

The Bulls had an impressive first half run and only late in the half fell behind after a pair of technical fouls and free throws. But a poor third quarter doomed the Bulls to battling back the rest of the game and the Clippers held them off like a long armed boxer with the Bulls taking swing after swing and not getting close enough.

The Bulls had six players score in double figures and were led off the bench again by Bobby Portis with 19 points and nine rebounds. Kris Dunn had 18 points and six assists. David Nwaba had 15 points. Robin Lopez had 12 and Zach LaVine and Cameron Payne had 10 each. The Bulls had a 43-24 margin in bench scoring. It was another tough shooting game fro LaVine at three of 13.

Paul Zipser remained out with a foot injury. Lauri Markkanen joined him inactive with back spasms. The Bulls started Vonleh for the first time this season. Lopez was back starting, but without Justin Holiday. After an erratic start with DeAndre Jordan dunking three times, the Bulls began pressuring on the perimeter. Dunn, Nwaba and Payne turned steals into runaway fast break scores and the Bulls took a 19-17 lead with four minutes left in the first. Lopez continue to display an array of hook shots, a pair of three-point attempts and a dunk for his 12 minutes, which is what he plays lately. Lopez had a dozen points and three offensive rebounds as the Bulls trailed 31-27 after one quarter. The Bulls continued to impress with pressure in the backcourt, Payne forcing another turnover on an inbounds pass as the Bulls had an 8-0 start to the second quarter for a 35-31 lead. There was more guard cutting to the basket with Payne and Antonio Blakeney as the Bulls led 43-39 midway through the second quarter. Portis got his jumper going and Antonio Blakeney finally found the range and the Bulls took a 52-44 lead with just under four minutes left in the half. But it was a wild last four minutes when LaVine got fouled attempting to dunk. There was no call from the referee. LaVine grew angry with the play in front of the Bulls bench. Both he and Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg were assessed technical fouls, giving the Clippers four free throws with a Lou Williams drive and foul. The Clippers thus closed the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 62-60 halftime lead. Portis had 10 second quarter points as he and Payne each had 10 in the half. Jordan had 14 and 10 rebounds in the first half and Tobias Harris 15 points for the Clippers.

Felicio started the second half for Lopez, but the starters again were limited in their ball movement as the Clippers then pulled ahead 70-64 to open the third quarter. Dunn then took an inbounds pass full court for a score, but soon drew his fourth foul and had to leave. LaVine continued to experience frustration trying to get to the basket and with weak Bulls transition defense, the Clippers sent the Bulls into a timeout with four minutes left in the third trailing 82-74. The Clippers went on to lead 90-78 going into the fourth quarter as the Bulls second unit reverted to more individual play. The Bulls shot 30 percent in the third quarter and were zero for six on threes. The Clippers looked like they’d taken the game with a 98-84 lead four minutes into the fourth quarter. But Portis got a driving baseline dunk on a Dunn pass and the Bulls reeled off five straight points on a Portis three and Nwaba fast break score to draw within 100-93 with just under seven minutes left. But the Bulls relied on jump shots as the Clippers went inside for scores from Williams and Jordan to take a 111-99 lead with just over two minutes remaining.