In what was one of the wackiest games of the season, the Chicago Bulls fell to the New Orleans Pelicans in double overtime 132-128. It was a game which featured the Bulls blowing a big lead, multiple overtimes, and a phantom call which saved Chicago in regulation.
DeMarcus Cousins had a night for the ages against the Bulls, dropping a historically-astounding triple double of 44 points, 24 rebounds, and 10 rebounds. He was a threat from deep, going 5 of 11 from there, and got to the line a ton (13 of 14). A true matchup nightmare for the Bulls frontcourt.
(4:25-4:38) The play begins with Boogie grabbing a rebound off a Zach LaVine missed jumper. Instead of making an outlet pass to a guard or wing, Cousins decided to dribble the ball up court himself. Having Cousins act as the main ball handler for some possessions is a new look New Orleans has tried before and they have ended up with differing results. This time, it resulted in gold.
Cousins dribbling the ball up the court forced Robin Lopez to be on his toes the moment he got past the halfway line. Usually Lopez can wait till Cousins jogs back past the three-point line but not on this possession. As soon as Cousins got to the top of the three-point line he is given two options. Either take the screen of Anthony Davis on his right or Darius Miller on the left. It’s a Kentucky Wildcat PNR combo either way. Cousins chooses to go with the screen set by his fellow big Davis. As soon as Cousins moved to his right, Davis took off towards the basket. Lopez was still sagging back a little while Lauri Markkanen, who was guarding Davis, decided to stay in front instead of trailing his man. It turned out to be a big mistake as Cousins lobbed it passed the long arms of Markkanen to Davis for the reverse dunk.
(7:05-7:15) Again the action starts with Cousins having the ball at the top of the three-point line. Here instead of being the playmaker, he hands the ball off to former Bull E’Twuan Moore. When Moore grabs the ball he uses Cousins’s body as a screen and switches directions back to where he was originally running from. This forces Lopez to step up and defend the drive against Moore. Jerian Grant, who was guarding Moore, got screened by Cousins and was running into the paint to get back to his man. With both Grant and Lopez covering Moore, it left Chicago with a big problem: Cousins was wide open near the three-point line. On the weak side near Cousins was Denzel Valentine who was covering Miller in the corner. When Cousins got the kick out pass from Moore, Valentine jumped over to the big man for a second before retreating back to cover Miller in the corner. With Valentine not committing to closing out to Cousins and preventing the swing pass for a corner 3, it gave Boogie enough time to get his feet set and knock down a very clutch three-point shot.
DeMarcus Cousins is always going to give opposing front courts trouble. He had a very favorable matchup against Chicago, being too strong for Markkanen to handle in the post while his agility and ability to stretch the floor gave Lopez problems. In this game Cousins showed why he is one of the most polarizing players in the league, dropping a very impressive stat line.
Lauri Markkanen’s defense
Even in a game where he didn’t hit a single three, Lauri Markkanen still found a nice way to contribute on this Bulls team with a good defensive performance. The rookie again displayed his very important attribute of guarding smaller players in space and holding his own off switches. Especially in one of the final possessions where he got switched onto Jrue Holiday, stayed with the guard the whole time, and had a good defensive stop. He also displayed some great rim protection and got 2 blocks in the process.