It’s been a tough stretch of games for the Chicago Bulls but they keep finding ways to win. Against another opponent better than .500 in the New York Knicks, Chicago got a gritty and grueling 109-103 win at the United Center. It was also some sweet revenge after losing to the Knicks at home last month. The Bulls now have their 12th win of the year, putting them back into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bulls closed this out with a 37 point fourth quarter, which was needed after they squandered the lead in the third. The performance in the final 12 minutes was much in thanks to the duo of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. In terms of the offense overall, the Bulls had a pretty balanced attack with four guys in double digits. They shot 42 percent from the field but didn’t push the ball much in fast break, scoring just four transition points. Chicago continued their improvement at shooting the three-ball, knocking down 37.9 percent of their attempts from downtown. DeRozan again led scorers with 31 on 50 percent shooting from the field and making all nine of his free throw attempts.
This game began great, with the Bulls racing out to a 20-8 lead in the opening six minutes behind a swarming defense that forced the Knicks into bad shots. Lonzo Ball was the main offensive engine for Chicago in the first quarter, scoring seven points. After getting a double digit lead, the Bulls offense began to sputter, scoring just five points in the remaining five and half minutes of the quarter. New York took advantage, going on a 12-5 run to cut the lead down at the end of the first.
Chicago pushed it back to double digits at the start of the second thanks to a three-point play by Tony Bradley. However, the Knicks kept hanging in there and didn’t let the lead get any bigger. The Bulls didn’t do themselves any favors either by playing some lackadaisical basketball, taking unnecessary difficult shots and also not taking care of the ball like they usually do.
There was also some frustration about the officiating from Chicago’s side for much of the night, and it reached a boiling point in the second quarter with DeRozan and Alex Caruso both receiving technicals within a minute of each other.
The Knicks remained within striking distance as Julius Randle knocked down a shot at the buzzer to make it only a six-point lead for the Bulls (51-46) at the half.
If the second quarter was sloppy for Chicago, then the third was even worse. And defensively the Bulls had their hands full defending Randle, who had 13 in that frame alone as he kept finding his way to the basket. This is where the Bulls lack of size hurt them a bit as Caruso was by far their best option to guard Randle.
The Bulls kept from sinking thanks to two buckets in the final minute from DeRozan, as the Knicks lead only got as big as six and was down to two heading into the fourth.
Then when they needed it the most, Chicago’s offense began to show signs of life from an unexpected source. Coby White, who has struggled to start the season and didn’t have much of a first half, sparked the team and the crowd. He knocked down a three to give Chicago the lead back, then assisted a Derrick Jones Jr. make from the same corner spot to make it a four-point Bulls lead and prompting a quick timeout from Tom Thibodeau.
White continued producing in his stint, scoring 10 points including three shots from deep. Those shots were crucial for the Bulls offense as they were running into problems with New York doubling DeRozan off the PnR, and where White’s catch and shoot game opened things up for Chicago as New York couldn't crash the lane on drives.
Coby White with another 3 pointer!!! pic.twitter.com/vSa0CErC31— Ⓜ️ ▶️ (@_MarcusD3_) November 22, 2021
Despite seeing a six point swing in under two minutes, it felt like every time Chicago hit a big shot, New York would respond. It was only a two point lead with just under four minutes to go and that’s when the Bulls scoring duo decided to close things out. DeRozan and LaVine combined to score 12 of Chicago’s final 13 points. It started out with a clutch mid-range jumper from DDR followed by him doing what he does best and getting to the line. LaVine followed suit, attacking the basket and drawing contact, leading to free throws. These baskets were much needed as the Knicks responded with some scores of their own from Randle to keep them in the game.
With a 1:30 left and in a three-point game, Chicago was in need for a big bucket. The Knicks had just completed a three-point play from Randle that came from Caruso’s sixth personal foul, knocking him out of the game. After getting a kickout from DeRozan, LaVine put his head down and drove to the rim, finishing with a nice left handed layup.
Immanuel Quickley missed a three on the other end, prompting the Knicks to start fouling. Chicago knocked down their free throws and from there on it was smooth sailing till the clock hit triple zeros.
LaVine finished with 21 points but had a rough night efficiency wise, going seven of 20 from the field and zero of five from three. Still, big credit to him in making these clutch baskets.
Other scorers on the Bulls included Caruso and Tony Bradley finished with seven points each with Caruso adding four assists. Ball had 11 points with nine of them coming from downtown, plus five assists and six rebounds. Javonte Green also had a massive impact on the boards, grabbing a whopping nine of his own along with five points. The Bulls bench was outscored by New York’s but still made an impact. White was the star of the reserves with 14 points including his big fourth quarter while shooting three of six from deep. Jones Jr. had eight points of his own while grabbing seven rebounds. Ayo Dosunmu had just five points while Alize Johnson had a small four minute stint in the third quarter where he picked up two fouls.
Despite not playing well for half of the game, Chicago still grinded out this victory. The quick start to the fourth sparked their offense and the key guys rose to the occasion when called upon. After the stretch to start the year along with the West coast road trip, the Bulls have more than held their own against some good teams this season. Chicago has a very short time to rest as they play the Indiana Pacers tomorrow as the second game of a back to back.