The Bulls Saturday began to carry a heavier load with a six-game losing streak after a 113-103 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers took an early lead with a poor shooting start by the Bulls and never lost the lead, though the Bulls got within a basket a few times. It was, predictably, another poor first quarter for the Bulls, 17 points this time, that left them behind and without enough to catch up with important starters still out.
The Bulls had six players score in double figures led by Zach LaVine with 21 points and nine rebounds. LaVine played more than 30 minutes for the first time this season. Paul Zipser had 16 points with four of six three pointers. Robin Lopez had 15 points and eight rebounds, Jerian Grant had 14 points, Justin Holiday 13 and Bobby Portis 10 points and 13 rebounds.
The Bulls shot just 36.1 percent for the game. The Clippers had a 52-36 edge in points in the paint. The Clippers out hustled the Bulls with a 33-19 advantage on fast break points and led 46-24 on bench points.
The Bulls fell to 18-34 and play in Sacramento Monday. The Clippers are 26-25.
The Bulls newest additions, Jameer Nelson and Omer Asik, technically still were not available. They had not taken physicals yet before the start of Saturday's game. Paul Zipser got the start again with Lauri Markkanen back home after the birth of his first child. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said Markkanen will join the team for the Monday game in Sacramento. Kris Dunn remains back in Chicago with concussion symptoms. It was a headache for the Bulls to start with six straight misses and three turnovers in the 12:30 p.m. Los Angeles start. That enabled the Clippers to take a 7-0 lead and 10-3 before Grant got the Bulls going with seven straight points. The Bulls tied it at 12, but in a desultory quarter the Clippers led 22-17 as they shot 31 percent. Both teams began to awaken in the second quarter, LaVine scoring nine points for the Bulls, including a driving dunk and three to close the half. Zipser had a run of three three-pointers midway trough the quarter as the Bulls tried to fight off Lou Williams, who and 13 points in the quarter. The Clippers led 43-28 midway through the second quarter before the Bulls got the three falling, with five of 11 in the second quarter to get within 57-52 at halftime.
The Bulls opened the second half getting the ball inside, making four straight free throws to get within 59-56. The Clippers then found the range for three pointers and wet out on a 14-5 run to take a 73-61 lead. The Bulls kept clawing back, Holiday with another three, then Grant. But each time there would be a crucial turnover, five in the quarter for the Bulls as the Clippers went into the fourth quarter leading 87-81. The Bulls got their shooting up to 39.7 percent through three led by Grant and Zipser with 14 each. The Bulls had opportunities to open the fourth quarter with the Clippers missing. But Portis and Denzel Valentine missed threes instead of getting some contact and then the Clippers pulled away again driving the ball at the Bulls to take a a 98-85 lead with 8:17 left in the game. At the time, Portis and Valentine were a combined zero for nine on threes. Portis left the game in the fourth quarter eight for 37 shooting the last three games. Again, turnovers proved fatal with every Bulls effort to track down the Clippers, first a 24-second violation and then another off target Zipser pass as the Clippers led 102-91 with 4:43 left. The Bulls had one more effort on a LaVine three to get within eight with 2:36 left. But Tobias Harris scored quickly out of a timeout to reclaim the double digit lead.