Even on the second night of a back-to-back and facing the Nets in their home opener, this was a game I fully expected the Bulls to win, and win big. That's because the Nets aren't any good, and while the Bulls had some shaky moments after opening up big leads, they took home a 115-100 victory.
The Bulls' offense got off to a great start, with balanced scoring taking them out to an 11-point lead after one quarter, a lead that quickly ballooned to 16 points at the outset of the second quarter. Some poor defense allowed the Nets to get back in the game, with Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young taking advantage of some space on the perimeter to knock down open jumpers.
That 16-point lead was trimmed to just three at halftime before the starters again pushed it back out to 19 late in the third quarter. Things got a bit prickly when the Bulls' all-bench unit scuffled once again (Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, ugh), but the starters put it away for good with a barrage of offense down the stretch.
Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic put the final nails in the coffin, with Butler pouring in 10 of his team-high 24 points (on 9-of-11 shooting) in the final frame. Meanwhile, Mirotic hit two huge threes in the fourth, with the second an absolute bomb. Mirotic had 18 points and nine boards, and he was a game-high +30.
All five Bulls starters scored in double figures. Pau Gasol got more involved tonight after a woeful offensive showing against the Cavaliers, although again most of his looks were jumpers. Derrick Rose didn't have a particularly noteworthy game, but that's not a bad thing. His decision-making was mostly fine and he had some nice drives to the basket.
Overall, this one was all about the starters. The Bulls dominated with their best players on the floor, while the all-bench units just didn't have it. I like what Fred's doing in terms of limiting the minutes, but he may have to make it a point to keep one of Rose, Butler, Mirotic or Pau on the floor at all times.
Even despite some of the bench struggles, it's always nice to get a mostly comfortable win on the second night of a back-to-back on the road. 2-0. And fun fact: The Bulls went 14-of-28 from three, while the Nets went 0-of-9. The Bulls outscored the Nets by 42 points from three! Huge.