Bulls gain draft position with another loss to Brooklyn
After losing to Brooklyn 114-105 on Monday, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg addressed reporters in a hallway while standing in front of a large photo of one of the NBA drafts held at the Barclays Center.
It was an appropriate backdrop, since draft position was on the line Monday. There were some nervous moments for the pro-tank crowd as the Bulls hung close through most of the fourth quarter, but the Nets finally pulled away thanks to a career-high 41 points from Allen Crabbe.
The victory by Brooklyn (28-53) broke a tie in the standings. The Bulls (27-54) are now alone with the league's seventh-worst record, but they are just one game behind both the Nets and Knicks. Wednesday's season finale against Detroit at the United Center is no gimme loss, since the Pistons are eliminated from the playoffs.
There's a chance the Bulls could finish tied with the sixth-worst record if they lose to Detroit and Sacramento beats Houston on Wednesday. If lottery teams end up in a tie, they split the combined lottery chances equally, then a random drawing determines which team would pick first if neither moves into the top three.
After hitting 24 baskets from 3-point range on Saturday at the United Center -- one short of tying the NBA record -- the Nets cooled off a bit. They still hit 18 of 42 attempts from long range on Monday, with Crabbe doing the most damage at 8-for-11.
"I thought we really went out and competed at a high level tonight," Hoiberg told reporters after the game. "I thought we reversed that from Saturday night."
The Bulls put seven players in double figures, led by Sean Kilpatrick with 16. Cameron Payne added 15, Bobby Portis 14 and Justin Holiday 13.
Before the game, Hoiberg was asked about the state of the Bulls as the first season post-rebuild draws to a close.
"I give our guys a lot of credit for putting the organization in a really good spot," Hoiberg said. "I know everyone is excited about certain things that happened this year. Now it's about getting everybody together and getting more consistent next season and I'm confident that will happen.
"With the young pieces we have, with two draft picks coming up this June and hopefully getting everyone together and moving forward in a positive direction this offseason -- I'm really excited about everything and I know a lot of people in the organization that are as well."
Most of the Bulls' important pieces for the future have been sitting out with injuries late in the season. Rookie Lauri Markkanen did return Monday after resting during the previous game. Markkanen hit just 3 of 14 shots for 10 points, but he did reach 1,000 points scored for the season.
"He's such a complete player," Hoiberg said of Markkanen. "He's a guy that puts a lot of time and effort into his craft. When teams started really getting into him, he worked on his faceup, jab-step jump shot a lot and he's gotten better at that as the season has gone on. Obviously everybody knew he could shoot when he came out, but his attack, his driving to the basket, getting to the free-throw line, his ability to rebound."
"The kid is an absolute winner. His worth ethic is one of his best attributes and he's going to continue to get better and better."
. Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls