The Bulls Saturday pushed the New Orleans Pelicans to overtime before losing 96-90.
The Bulls battled relentlessly to overcome poor shooting, but the Pelicans Anthony Davis with 27 points and 16 rebounds and DeMarcus Cousins with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
The Bulls were led by Justin Holiday with 18 points and Denzel Valentine off the bench with 16 points. Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez each had 14 points and Jerian Grant had 13 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. The Bulls were thwarted by poor shooting, 11 of 42 on threes and 35.4 percent overall. Markkanen was two of 11 on threes and Kris Dunn was two of nine overall. Paul Zipser was two of eight. Holiday was seven of 20. The Bulls outrebounded the to towering Pelicans, but attempted just 12 free throws.
The Bulls fell to 2-6. The Pelicans are 5-5.
It was the eighth and final game of the suspension of Bobby Portis for the preseason punch of Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic continues in light workouts at the Advocate Center and Portis can return Tuesday in Toronto. Coach Fred Hoiberg said it remains to be determined about playing time. The Bulls had a shaky start, quickly trailing 9-2 against the Pelicans’ power duo. Markkanen, who has been the most aggressive of the Bulls players attacking the lane, woke the Bulls with a driving baseline slam dunk as the Bulls came back within 15-13 as Dunn found Lopez with a smart interior pass and eased ahead on a Holiday three. Though it was a difficult shooting game for Markkanen. The Bulls led 19-17after one quarter as Lopez had nine points. The basket closed for the Bulls to open the second quarter as they missed nine consecutive shots after a Denzel Valentine three to open the quarter. But that left the Bulls trailing just 25-22 as the defense remained active. Dunn closed the drought with a steal and driving slam dunk. The Bulls despite three of 19 three-point shooting in the half used their defense to thwart the Pelicans, who were just two of 11 on threes in the first with only five free throws. The Bulls have been among the league leaders in yielding the fewest number of free throws. They were tied at 38 at halftime.
The Bulls’ Holiday gave the Bulls a boost to start the third quarter, often against his brother Jrue with the Pelicans. Justin had 10 third quarter points to lead the Bulls into the fourth quarter with a 64-57 edge. The Bulls suffered a setback when David Nwaba suffered a sprained ankle on a drive and had to be helped off the court. Valentine continued his hot shooting as the Bulls attempted to protect the lead going into the fourth quarter. The Bulls again went dry to start the fourth quarter, missing four straight shots before a Markkanen driving dunk out of a timeout to retake the lead for the Bulls at 66-65. The Pelicans reeled off six straight points, the Bulls tied it again at 71 and then the Pelicans responded with a pair of threes to lead 77-71 with 5:47 left. With two minutes left, the Bulls took an 83-81 lead on a Valentine three. The Pelicans tied it on a lob to Davis, but neither team could convert in the last 90 seconds. Both with chances in the last two seconds failed as Jrue Holiday missed a jumper and with two seconds left the Bulls loss the ball on an inbounds pass to Lopez.