Against another bottom five team in the Phoenix Suns, the Chicago Bulls finally snapped their losing streak. The Bulls were just the better team, controlling the whole game and holding Phoenix to a TS% of 52.9% with just 43 points in the first half. They picked it up in the second half but some of those points can be accounted for garbage time when the game was already decided.
The trio of Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen all scored double digits with latter duo dropping 17 points apiece. But the leading scorer for the Bulls was Robin Lopez.
Against one of his former teams, Lopez scored a team high 24 points and grabbed 5 offensive rebounds as he shot an efficient 11 of 14 from the field. It was evident Chicago wanted to get Lopez involved early and often as they ran multiple post up plays for him. Lopez was a big part of the Bulls big start to the game, going 4 of 5 from the field in the first quarter for 8 points.
The play starts with Kris Dunn on the left wing waiting to give an entry pass to Lopez. He posts up a bit higher than he usually does but Lopez gets the ball from Dunn with ease. As soon as he gets the ball, you can sort of tell where Lopez is going. His entire body isn’t in front of Deandre Ayton. He gave up a lot of space to Ayton on his left and with Shaq Harrison moving to the other corner, the baseline is open. Lopez gets the ball and quickly spins to his right towards the hoop. Ayton reacts quickly and does well to not let Lopez move inside to the front of the hoop. Just when it looks like his drive to the basket is stopped, Lopez stops right when he gets to the restricted area and spins back to his left. With Ayton already committed underneath the hoop, there is no other Sun protecting the rim. Lopez is able to keep his body in front of Ayton and shots a hook shot as he slowly falls away. It was a wily and savvy move by Lopez to get a high percentage shot from a post up which started near the three-point line.
Like the last play, this one starts with Dunn being the guy with the ball. This time it’s a Dunn-Lopez pick and roll which is the main action. Lopez sets a screen on De’Anthony Melton and with Dragon Bender not stepping up, Dunn has a clear lane towards the hoop. Melton does a great job of fighting through the screen and gets back to Dunn as soon as he gets into the lane. With Melton on his right hip and Bender right in front of him, Dunn decides to jump to his right towards the hoop for a layup attempt. He’s able to get there mostly due to Bender initially not putting his hands up to block nor alter his shot. Bender does it a bit late and Dunn is able to get the shot off. But the ball goes way high off the glass and hits the front of the rim. While Dunn was taking the shot, Lopez was rolling towards the rim with nobody stopping him. As soon as Dunn’s shot hits off the backboard you can see Lopez’s eyes light up as he knows a rebound opportunity is coming. Again with no Sun there to box him out, Lopez is able to grab the ball right when it comes off the rim and slams it with one swift motion. Bender jumped back to grab the ball but the idea of him getting the rebound with one hand was quickly shut down by Lopez, who bounced off him and dunked the ball.
It was a nasty putback dunk and it produced a golden reaction by Cristiano Felicio on the bench.
Tired: watching Bulls-Suns— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) March 19, 2019
Wired: watching Cris Felicio watch Bulls-Suns pic.twitter.com/pcDL2BWAwR
Lopez was featured often in this Bulls offense, and he rewarded Jim Boylen’s faith by taking advantage of Phoenix’s young big men: finding space to shoot his patented mini-hook along with crashing the glass.