Bulls fall to Spurs, 87-77

The Bulls Saturday lost to the San Antonio Spurs 87-77 in the Bulls home opener. The Bulls fell to 0-2 and play next in Cleveland Tuesday.

The Bulls were missing Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic from their practice fight earlier in the week. Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine remained out injured. With rookie Lauri Markkanan again playing with sophistication, the Bulls matched the Spurs early. But the Bulls shooting was erratic against the disciplined Spurs, who pulled away in the third quarter.

The Bulls were led by Robin Lopez with 16 points. Justin Holiday had 15 points and Markkanen had 13 point and a game high 12 rebounds. Jerian Grant added 13 points. LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 for the Spurs.  The Bulls were eight for 28 on threes and attempted just nine free throws, two through three quarters.

The Bulls got off to a good start against the tough Spurs with a 21-19 first quarter lead behind eight points each from Lopez and Holiday. The Spurs going to former Bull Pau Gasol took a quick 10-5 lead. But Lopez with his second consecutive eight-point first quarter of the season was strong inside as he’s accepting the increased scoring responsibility this season. The Bulls changed up the second quarter lineup that proved troublesome in the opener with starters Paul Zipser and Markkanen and Kay Felder proving more scoring. That enabled the Bulls to see saw with the Spurs in a half that saw nine lead changes and seven ties. Markkanen was versatile and physical with a game high seven rebounds in the first half as the Spurs led 41-38.

The Bulls shooting went awry early in the third quarter as the Spurs with their relentless precision hit the Bulls with a 13-2 spurt to take a 63-51 lead, the first double digit margin of the game. Lopez did make the first three of his NBA career. The Bulls finally got a Felder pullup jumper to stop the run and trailed 66-55 after three quarters with 23 percent shooting on threes. The Spurs extended that to 71-55 two minutes into the fourth quarter.