After coasting through their first four games in Las Vegas, the Bulls fell to the Kings, 80-61, in the quarterfinal round of the NBA’s summer-league tournament, ending their run in the desert.
Playing without sharpshooting forward Doug McDermott—the first-round draft pick sat out for precautionary reasons with a left-foot injury, partly because of his upcoming participation with the Select Team in USA Basketball’s mini-camp in Las Vegas later this month—the Bulls, who started a trio of former University of New Mexico teammates in second-year swingman Tony Snell (game-high 20 points), second-round draft pick Cameron Bairstow (eight points, eight rebounds) and undrafted rookie Kendall Williams, finished the opening period on the wrong end ofan 11-2 run, as the Kings took a 16-11 lead into the second quarter.
Despite contributions off the bench from Bairstow and point guard Lazeric Jones (12 points, six assists), a Chicago native and Simeon Career Academy product, the Bulls fell into a double-digit hole, as Sacramento big man Quincy Acy and the shooting-guard duo of 2013 lottery pick Ben McLemore and NBA journeyman MarShon Brooks got it going, giving the Kings a 42-29 lead at the intermission.
After the break, Snell, who came into the game averaging an even 20 points per game in summer-league play, gradually heated up following a quiet first half and scored 13 consecutive points in the third period to help the Bulls chip away at the deficit to make it a single-digit affair, but the combination of their poor shooting and Sacramento’s well-rounded offensive efficiency kept the previously-unbeaten team in a 58-49 hole heading into the final stanza.
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Whatever momentum was gained in the previous frame started to slip away in the fourth quarter, as the Kings increased their margin of separation to a 20-point lead and the Bulls’ chances at advancing in the tournament faded, though Snell continued to put points on the scoreboard in a last-gasp attempt at an ultimately-failed comeback.
While the ending was disappointing for the Bulls, the trip to Las Vegas yielded some positive results: Snell’s ongoing development and newfound offensive aggressiveness, McDermott displaying a degree of NBA readiness as a shooter, Bairstow showing a rugged physical demeanor and Jones proving himself to be a pleasant surprise at floor general and a potential training-camp participant, whether in his hometown or elsewhere.