The San Antonio Spurs were off to their best start on the road (13-0) in franchise history heading into Thursday nights Nationally televised game against the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls though had other plans for the Silver and Black.
San Antonio Spurs were the second team in NBA history to start a season 13-0 on the road since the Golden State Warriors did so just a season ago. Heading into the United Center, the Spurs looked to win their third straight against the Bulls in their home, but Dwyane Wade and company had other plans.
Chicago came out the way most teams have done over the last four games, aggressive and full of energy. The Bulls were doing it all, from the inside and outside. Led by Rajon Rondo, the Bulls ball movement proved to be to much for the Spurs to handle. As a team, Chicago assisted on 24 of their 35 made baskets. Rondo finished with 10.
San Antonio did have 21 assists in the game but they could not at times find the bottom of the basket, especially in the first half. The Spurs were held to a season low 32 points in a half on Thursday. Their previous was 35.
The Bulls at one point in the game had the Spurs right where they wanted them, seeing a lead climb to as much as 18. What was the cause of such a large deficit for San Antonio?
The Spurs were not aggressive on the offensive end, through the first three quarters at least. For the game, San Antonio settled for a lot of jumpers and did not attack the rim. This showed in the free throw attempts, or lack-there-of.
San Antonio went to the line five times, making four. Chicago on the other hand, 27 times, making 21. That was definitely the area that hurt the Spurs.
I mentioned through the first three quarters they did not play aggressive basketball. In the third, their scoring output did come alive as they outscored the Bulls 31-27. Remember for the first two quarters, they had just 32.
Chicago faithful knew a San Antonio run was looming.
I don’t know what to expect in this half because this game is drunk…
…so a Spurs run is bound to happen. https://t.co/MQplaAdznH
— Pippen Ain’t Easy (@BullsBeatBlog) December 9, 2016
That run did happen towards the end of the third heading into the fourth quarter. The Spurs cut the Bulls lead to seven heading. Kawhi Leonard, who finished the game with 24 points put the team on his back and led them with a couple of aerobatic And-1 buckets to bring life back into the team.
Leonard played his heart out. In the first half, he held the Bulls Jimmy Butler in check. Butler was 0-for-5 from the floor and had a goose egg in the scoring column.
Patty Mills also put his mark on the game hitting huge shot after huge shot. He came off the bench for the Spurs to provide the usual spark. He finished with 16 points and 4-of-6 from the 3-point line.
San Antonio did cut the lead to within four, but it was too much Wade and company. Wade finished with a team-high 20 points while Jimmy Butler came alive in the second half.
He finished with 13 points and nine rebounds on 4-of-14 shooting. It was a total team effort from the rest of the Bulls supporting cast that would hand the Spurs their first road loss of the season.
Tip your hat off to Chicago for staying composed every time San Antonio chipped the lead down. When you have the veteran Wade on the floor in crunch time, good things are bound to happen.
San Antonio is now 18-5 overall and 13-1 on the road. The Spurs now head back to the AT&T Center where they will face the Brooklyn Nets (6-15) Saturday.