The Bulls were on the second night of a back-to-back, apparently not getting into Miami from last night’s game in Brooklyn until after 4AM. Maybe that kept them from the nightlife, plus their tank commander Zach LaVine was out with some lower body thing, as the Bulls not only got an improbable win but an emphatic one in a 105-89 blowout of the Heat.
I kid about LaVine, kind of, but it is noticeable how much better the Bulls are defensively with him out of the lineup. They held the Heat to 38% shooting overall from the field, as Miami had nearly half of their attempts come from three but they only made 12 of their 42 attempts. Some of them were lucky misses as the Bulls were yet again extremely aggressive and leaving themselves open to poor rotations, but that also led to 14 Heat turnovers. Scanning the box score and there wasn’t a single Heat player who had a productive shooting night outside of I suppose Bam Adebayo going 5/7 for 13 points. Hasan Whiteside was annoyingly effective on the offensive glass with 5 of those and the team crushed Chicago in that department, but it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the rest of their terrible performance.
The Bulls had several very good performances from otherwise underperforming players to get this victory. But with LaVine out, the Bulls started the game force-feeding their best option in Lauri Markkanen, and it wasn’t working well at all outside of this nice and-one over Whiteside off of an offensive rebound.
There were a lot of scoring runs in this game through the first 3 quarters with the Bulls contributions coming from all over. Robin Lopez started the game 4-4 for 9 points, Arcidiacono had a couple impossible (you’d think) inside floaters go in, and Wayne Selden was knocking down threes and running the break well. Even two-way player Brandon Sampson came in and hit two shots.
The Bulls were beaten to some loose balls and rebounds and had a bit of a dud 2nd quarter (Jabari time was not good, he didn’t attempt a shot in his first stint and ‘fought’ a teammate for a rebound that went out of bounds) but there was another great run in the 3rd with Markkanen hitting a difficult runner (he was 0-5 from three but contributed elsewhere) and threes from Dunn (1-1 here, otherwise not particularly good) and Portis and the Bulls went from a 6 point deficit early in the 3rd to a 10 point lead heading into the fourth. Their offense was greatly helped here by FT shooting, through 3 quarters they had doubled-up the Heat’s attempts going 15/16 from the line.
I was concerned that the Parker-Portis frontcourt would find a way to ruin the lead as it did in the first half, but instead Bobby Portis caught absolute fire and blew the game open for the Bulls. He had 15 points in the final period for a game-high 26 overall, doing it from 3 as well as being unstoppable in his Portis-moves of short hooks in the lane and putbacks. The Bulls lead was over 15 with around 5 minutes left, then another Selden three had them up 19.
Selden went 4-6 from three in this game to finish with 20 points and 8 assists. He’s been more far better than what Chandler Hutchison has been providing in that post-Holiday-trade wing role, and was asked to shoot more in LaVine’s absence and delivered.
That kind of night, and a few others, aren’t likely to be repeatable, but hey this was the first win against a non-Cavaliers team in the calendar year. I’m sure while the Bulls players know they’re not being well-coached they at least have a quality victory for their own validation. Jim Boylen is now 4-2 when LaVine is out versus 3-19 when he plays.