Keys to the Game: Bulls vs. Spurs (11.26.18)
CHICAGO -- The San Antonio Spurs are a sub-.500 team right now and so when they are in position to win games, they would like to think they can find ways to capitalize.
But after blowing an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead in a loss that again dropped the Spurs below .500 and sent them to their eighth loss in their past 11 games, they hope they can find their footing against another struggling team.
The Spurs (9-10) will continue their four-game road trip when they visit the Chicago Bulls on Monday, looking to put a disappointing loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday behind them. After falling behind early by 15 points, the Spurs sputtered late in the 135-129 setback in which they couldn't protect a sizable lead down the stretch.
"We were in the game the whole time, we just couldn't get a stop down the stretch," San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge said after the loss, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
The loss was San Antonio's sixth in their past eight contests and wasted a 34-point effort from DeMar DeRozan, who is averaging better than 24 points over his past 15 games.
"It's tough to have control of the game and not win," Aldridge said.
As the Spurs continue to struggle of late, the Bulls have not been able to find a way to establish much of a groove all season. Depleted by injuries to three starters, Chicago has dropped six of its last seven games and has lost its past two. he Bulls, who are coming off a 111-96 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, have played all season without starters Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis.
Markkanen is inching closer to returning and, according to coach Fred Hoiberg, participated in a 2-on-2 workout with controlled contact as he continues to deal with an elbow injury that has kept him sidelined.
With so many productive scorers out of the lineup, Chicago (5-15) has struggled at times to remain competitive, but guard Zach LaVine said after Saturday's loss that the Bulls have no choice but to keep working to try and play through all of the adversity they have faced throughout the first 20 games of the season.
The secret for LaVine, who leads the Bulls in scoring, is to flush each loss after it happens.
"I'll be frustrated a little bit (after losses), but the next day you just can't dwell on it," LaVine told reporters after Saturday's setback. according to the Chicago Tribune. "Just try to get better."
Key reserve Denzel Valentine is out for the season with an ankle injury, and LaVine admitted the Bulls almost have no room for error in any game they play. That will again be the case Monday against the Spurs, who hope to take advantage of how short-handed Chicago will be.
"We almost have to play a perfect game," LaVine said. "We have to understand that. We have to know who we are. Nobody is going to feel sorry for us. We can't give up. We have to compete. But you can only say so much because we keep doing the same thing over and over again."
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