By the order of the tank, this was a huge game. Chicago made things interesting in the first half but faded away in the second half to ensure a 114-105 victory for Brooklyn over a woeful Chicago squad. A lot of the credit also goes to the Nets offense, which shot 50% from the field and 42.9% from three-point land. Brooklyn had 3 starters score 20 or more points in this game while the highest scoring Bulls starter was Cameron Payne with 15.
The real star of the game was Brooklyn’s Allen Crabbe, dropping a game-high 41 points (22 in the first quarter) on 12 of 15 shooting, draining 8 three-pointers in the process. Crabbe gave the Bulls problems with his movement and his ability to knock down three-pointers when given just the tiniest space.
(0:14 - 0:26) Although it was only one of the first possessions of the game, Crabbe showed a preview of just how much he could punish Chicago for defensive mistakes.
Crabbe starts off in the right hand corner and begins to drift over to the top of the three-point line as the possession wears on. The main action of this play is a dribble handoff play between Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie. With Cristiano Felicio stepping up off the switch, the Bulls double Dinwiddie and leave Allen wide open as he rumbles down the lane. Justin Holiday, who is guarding Crabbe, steps down to help out on the drive. Meanwhile Cameron Payne is guarding D’Angelo Russell, who is going towards the corner and essentially switched places with Crabbe. Only problem for the Bulls is that nobody is guarding Crabbe. A miscommunication between Payne and Holiday leave Russell guarded in the corner while Crabbe is open on the right wing. All it took was a simple pass to Dinwiddie to Crabbe and the ball was swished through the net a couple of seconds later.
(0:57 - 1:01) Again Crabbe is able to take advantage of Chicago’s defense for a quick fire three-pointer. This time instead of being on the right corner, Crabbe is on the opposite side and is being guarded by Cameron Payne. Rondae Hollis Jefferson has the ball and is only a few feet away from Crabbe. RHJ, who is guarded by Lauri Markkanen, turns towards Crabbe and hands it off to the guard as he runs by him and sets a screen on Payne. Markkanen is sliding to his right along with RHJ but then sees the screen and sags back just a little. This turns out to be the wrong move as nobody stepped up to contest Crabbe after he got the ball. With Payne completely stopped by the screen and Markkanen too far away to contest, it’s an easy rise up and splash for Crabbe.
(2:45 - 2:52) Here on one of the key possessions in the game, Crabbe uses the threat of a three-point shot to get himself an easy lay up. Coming off a sideline out of bounds play, D’Angelo Russell has the ball at the top of the three-point line. Meanwhile Jarrett Allen, who initially set a screen to free Russell for the initial catch, is moving towards the opposite side of the court and it looks like he is going to set a screen for Crabbe. Initially what this play looks like is a screen which Crabbe will run over the top of for a catch and shoot three. Jerian Grant, who is guarding Crabbe, senses this and when Allen comes over and blocks Crabbe from taking the screen. But with Grant now on Crabbe’s side instead of in front of him, there is a ton of space which has now been vacated. Crabbe sees this and then makes a quick cut towards the basket, leaving Grant in his dust. With Felicio up with Allen, there is nobody in the paint and all Russell has to do is lob the ball to a cutting Crabbe for an alley-oop layup.
Although he’s been wildly inconsistent, Allen Crabbe can still score in a hurry. He showed his effectiveness and ability to heat up quickly in this game.
Markkanen makes history
Crabbe wasn’t the only one who made some headlines in this game. Thanks to a performance of 10 points and 6 rebounds, Lauri Markkanen made some history as well becoming the 4th rookie in Bulls history to record 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a season. Markkanen is the first rookie since Elton Brand to do it and joins the company of Dave Greenwood and Michael Jordan.
Although it could be argued that it is pointless for Markkanen to play in these games which mean nothing and are only for the tank, it was nice to see the rookie achieve something like this. He’s really finished the season well after struggling during the middle of it.