By Dan Bernstein–
670TheScore.com senior columnist
(670 The Score) Give credit to the Bulls for snapping the Nets’ streak at eight and moving up a bit in the race Monday night. They pulled it out by a final of 104-87, led by Cameron Payne, Justin Holiday, Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine, who came through when needed by combining to make just 10 of their 48 total shots.
Down is up and up is down in the world of the battle for NBA Draft assets, as chronicled with deft cynicism at tankathon.com, where the inverted standings tell the story of what the remainder of this season means to the teams in the fight.
This is what the Bulls call “getting a look at what we have in our young players,” so as to avoid telling the kind of truth that got Mavericks owner Mark Cuban fined $600,000 last week by the league. The Bulls have remained dutifully on message to this point, disciplined in their insistence that the current decisions on playing time are motivated by developmental opportunities.
That’s why it’s best that Zach LaVine rest his recovering knee and Robin Lopez rest his … everything, remaining on the bench to joke about his lack of proper semi-formal attire.
Their 40 losses put the Bulls in the eighth seed for the top lottery spot and two games off the pace for the fourth pick, needing to leapfrog the Nets, Mavericks and Grizzlies to reach where the Magic and Kings are currently tied.
Tankathon.com projects the Bulls to have just a 9.9 percent chance at the top three and a 2.8 percent shot at the No. 1, but they appear set on doing all they can. Or can’t.