In what was a game of huge implications regarding “the tank,” the Chicago Bulls ended up the victors (or losers, depends how you look at it) in what was relatively a not so entertaining game. Against the Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago built up a huge lead, watched it dwindle down to one point, only to recover and end the game strong. The run in the fourth quarter was enough for Chicago to walk out with a 119-110 victory.
It was a big night offensively for the Bulls’ starters, with all five of them scoring in double figures and three of them scoring 20 or more. It was an even more positive sign given the three were the trio of Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, and Kris Dunn. They combined for 64 points and were huge in the fourth quarter, especially when Memphis made its run to get back into the game.
Out of all three, the most impressive of the night was Dunn. He nearly had a double-double with a stat total of 21 points and nine assists. Dunn also did a great job of getting to the free-throw line, going to the charity stripe a team-high 10 times in this game and knocking down eighth of them. He had a big 4th quarter as well, scoring 11 in the final frame. Throughout the game, Dunn displayed the type of player he could become in the future, but his real impact came defensively late in the game:
Reminder that Kris Dunn's on-ball defense is really good pic.twitter.com/bBlT4ToznH— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) March 8, 2018
One thing we have always known about Dunn ever since he came out of college is his defense is top notch. The trend has continued in Chicago with Dunn being the one of the Bulls’ best perimeter defenders (along with David Nwaba) and has registered a defensive box plus/minus total of 1.6 so far this season.
In that first first clip, he’s matched up against shooting guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes at the top of the perimeter. Dunn’s man starts off the play by driving right and then spins to his left as soon as he gets to the free-throw line. The spin throws Dunn off as he was on Rathan-Mayes hip the entire drive until then. But Dunn makes a fantastic adjustment and spins as well. He does it the opposite way of Rathan-Mayes and is right there when the Florida State product decides to shoot the jumper in the paint. So as soon as Rathan-Mayes jumps and releases the ball, Dunn goes up with him. The result is a fantastic block and one which came at a crucial time with the score being 98-95.
Earlier where Dunn showed his ability to go up and contest jump shots, here he shows his aggressiveness on defense, which can led to easy baskets on the other end:
Again, Dunn is guarding Rathan-Mayes, but he’s down in the paint. There are two reasons why he is there. The first being he’s making sure the pass down to Grizzlies big man Deyonta Davis doesn’t get a clean pass near the block. With Bobby Portis out of position near the Bulls bench, if Davis gets the pass it’s an easy basket for him. Paul Zipser isn’t contesting against him. Another reason is because Rathan-Mayes is actually shooting 0 percent from 3-point land for Memphis so far this season. He also shot a career average of 29.4 percent at Florida State so Dunn was willing to give up a 3-point attempt to him if the opportunity presented itself.
But that didn’t mean Dunn wasn’t going to pay attention if the ball came to Rathan-Mayes. Shortly after Dunn leaves Davis, the ball is swung to Rathan-Mayes at the top of the 3-point line. Problem is the ball never got to his hands. Dunn leaped in front of the pass like Charles Tillman and began to go the other way. There was not a Memphis player in sight who was going to stop Dunn as he went up and slammed home a one-handed jam.
This game was a good one by Dunn on both sides of the ball. He was a pest defensively, being aggressive and making plays when he needed to. Dunn was also good on offense, too, having an efficient game of shooting 6 of 11 from the field (54 percent). He had a sick behind the back pass and even had a slick finish at the rim over Marc Gasol. Like mentioned before, going to the line 10 times was a good sign as well, with a good chunk of those coming late as the Bulls were trying to salt the game away.
Overall, Dunn had the best game of any Bulls player against Memphis.