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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Mark Potash

Bulls don’t quit, but Kings still win 117-114

Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) and Patrick Williams (44) defending against Sacramento Kings’ guard Malik Monk (0) on a first-half drive Wednesday night at the United Center. (Charles Rex Arbogast, AP Photos)

The Bulls didn’t quit. But they didn’t win, either. 

Refusing to yield to the Kings’ unrelenting offense, the Bulls forced an unlikely tie with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter on DeMar DeRozan’s four-point play. But irrepressible Kings guard De’Aaron Fox calmly dribbled down the clock and drained a three-point shot over Ayo Dosunmu with 0.7 seconds left to give Sacramento a 117-114 victory Wednesday before a sellout crowd of 21,886 at the United Center. 

The DeRozan-Fox flurry culminated an entertaining game in which the Bulls went toe-to-toe with the NBA’s best offensive team. Every time the Bulls took the lead, the Kings responded, and the Bulls responded right back. Until Fox’s fateful shot. 

“I pretty much knew it, and everybody knew it was going to be an isolation [for Fox],” Dosunmu said. “We knew it wasn’t gonna be too much of a complicated play. I just wanted to use my length, my wingspan while also not getting too close to him because I don’t want him to try to get a drive or a foul or a hand-check. So I tried to keep a good distance where I could still contest.

“When he pulled up, I contested. Pat [Williams] contested. He just made a tough shot. It was a great shot. He’s been making those shots a lot throughout the year.”

DeRozan, who led the Bulls with 33 points, was nearly the hero. He converted two four-point plays in the fourth quarter, including one that gave the Bulls a 103-102 lead with 3:50 left. With the Bulls trailing 114-110 with 16 seconds left, DeRozan’s second four-point play tied the score, ignited the United Center crowd and gave the Bulls a chance to win after the Kings led 112-106 with 41 seconds left. 

“It was a read,” DeRozan said. “Try to get them to make a decision. Either me or Zach [LaVine]. We played it well. We got them to mess up. And we took the shot. As soon as I saw them mess up the switch, I was just trying to get a three off.” 

Despite the excitement at the end, the Bulls still were saddled with another loss in a close game that has marked a disappointing season that has them on the outside looking in for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls (31-37) dropped a half-game behind the 10th-seeded Wizards (32-37) with 14 games to go. 

LaVine had 25 points on 7-for-22 shooting after missing his first six shots. Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and 14 rebounds but was 0-for-7 on three-pointers. The Bulls played without guard Alex Caruso, who was out with a non-COVID illness, coach Billy Donovan said. 

Fox led the Kings with 32 points.

“Tough. We’ve lost on a buzzer a couple of times,” LaVine said. “You’ve got to beat a team like that. Third quarter, they got out in transition, and we got a little stagnant on offense. They’re getting easy shots. They went to that zone and kind of slowed us down. 

“Played catch-up. Got the game tied — incredible shot by DeMar. But big-time shot by De’Aaron Fox, man. Contested three over two guys — you tip your hat to him. You just don’t want to be in that position.” 

The Bulls led 45-29 in the second quarter and 58-48 at halftime before the Kings rallied in the third quarter to take the lead. Every time the Bulls regained the lead, the Kings responded quickly with a basket. Then the Bulls showed their own resilience. But the Kings had the last at-bat. 

“We’ve got a lot of firepower, [too]; we just lost at the end,” LaVine said. “We’re coming in trying to win every game. Tough way to lose. We’ve got to go get the next one.”

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