A miracle finish escapes the Bulls in a loss to the Spurs

CHICAGO – Fate has not been kind to the Bulls. It has been downright cruel.

Injuries in training camp, ailments early in the season, then more issues later on. Fred Hoiberg has struggled to find any kind of rhythm let alone a decent rotation to attack some of the best of the NBA.

Frustration is as part of the narrative of the 2017-2018 Bulls as much as anything else, but it looked as if fate might shine a bit of the team Monday night against the Spurs.

Down by one in the final seconds, an uncharacteristic turnover in their end, a shot to win a game in dramatically positive fashion. Yet again, this hope proved to be a mirage.

Despite his best efforts to pick up the late turnover by San Antonio, Ryan Arcidiacono’s last-second fadeaway shot came up just a bit short, leaving the Bulls to deal with a 108-108 defeat at the United Center. What would have easily been the most dramatic victory of the season instead became the team’s 16th loss in 21 games.

Arcidiacono did his part to help the Bulls stay close against the Spurs, scoring 22 points to go along with Zach LaVine’s game-high 28 points. Yet neither player could hit a potential game-winner in the last five seconds as a potentially great moment slipped away again.

All night the Bulls were flirting with the surprise win, leading by as many as eight in the third quarter before San Antonio chipped away in the fourth quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge appeared to seal the game with 2:13 left when his slam & foul put the Spurs up by seven.

After that, the home defense toughened, and Arcidiacono led them back on the offensive, knocking down a pair of three-pointers to cut the lead to one. LaVine had the chance to give the Bulls the lead with under five seconds to go, but his shot was off the mark, and Aldridge’s rebound appeared to seal it.

On the ensuing inbounds, however, Bryn Forbes’ pass was errant and tipped by Arcidiacono’s towards the corner with time ticking down. The guard finally got the ball on the baseline and threw the shot towards the hoop. While on target, it came up short and went off the rim, as a near-miraculous moment wasn’t meant to be for a hard-luck Bulls’ team.