After back-to-back losses, the Chicago Bulls were in need of a big performance at home against the Brooklyn Nets. Thanks to a monstrous fourth quarter and 28 points from DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls were able to earn a 118-95 win at home against a streaking Nets team. Chicago improved to 7-3 with the win.
The Bulls had a disastrous second quarter, scoring only 16 points after a 35-point first quarter, but they bounced back in the second half and dominated in the fourth quarter to the tune of a 42-17 advantage. Thanks a full team effort and a career game from rookie Ayo Dosunmu, Chicago was able to take a close game and blow it wide open.
Kevin Durant scored 38 points on 13-of-24 shooting, but he didn’t get much help from his teammates. LaMarcus Aldridge had a strong game off the bench with 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, but James Harden was limited to 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting in a rather dispirited effort for the former MVP.
As a whole, Chicago’s offense was fine from the field at 46.9 percent. Zach LaVine had a nice game, following DeRozan with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field. The Bulls won the battle on the boards, 56-42 and dominated Brooklyn in terms of points in the paint by scoring 54 points while giving up just 24 in that area. They also did a good job taking care of the ball with just nine turnovers on the night.
The Bulls’ Achilles’ heel on offense was still on display, as they shot a terrible 9-of-31 from 3-point land (29 percent), but they were 5-of-6 in the big fourth quarter. That helped them blow the game wide open in the final frame.
Unlike the past three games, the Bulls had a good first quarter ending in an 8 point lead with 35 points led by LaVine going for 12.
While the first quarter was a positive, the second was the complete opposite. Chicago shot the ball poorly, missing quite a bit of easy looks near the basket as Nikola Vucevic’s disastrous start continued. Defensively, they weren’t locked in either, giving up 30 to the with LaMarcus Aldridge really cooking, scoring 10 in the period. As a result, Chicago saw its lead evaporate within four minutes of the start of the quarter and Brooklyn led by six at the half. It was a tough watch as all of their good work in the first was completely wiped out.
In the third quarter, KD went off for 12 points, but the rest of the Nets team struggled which allowed the Bulls to hang around and go into the final frame trailing by just two points.
The Bulls began the fourth quarter with their hair on fire, with a 13-2 run within the first four minutes to not only regain the lead but to extend it to nine. It was all thanks to a DDR-Caruso-Ayo-DJJ-Tony Bradley lineup, causing chaos defensively and pushing the pace on the other end. Even in the half-court, the Bulls were cooking as DeRozan just kept knocking down his patented mid-range jumper when Brooklyn gave him a little space. By the time Chicago subbed back in its starters, it was already a double-digit lead for the home team. Then with less than four minutes to go, both Lonzo Ball and DeRozan splashed back-to-back 3-pointers in the corner to make it a 19-point game, and we were officially in blowout territory at the UC.
The stat sheet doesn’t exactly reflect it, but Nikola Vucevic did sort of have a comeback that hopefully carries over. He started off terribly, to the point where it looked genuinely concerning at the types of shots he was missing right around the basket. But Vooch made some big shots down the stretch, including a 3 from straight away and a jumper near the baseline off the PnR. He ultimately finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds, and while he still shot poorly overall (5-of-14), hopefully the end of the game can give some confidence moving forward.
Lonzo Ball and Javonte Green both put in 11 points apiece to make it double figures for all Chicago starters, with Ball also adding seven rebounds. The bench stepped up when needed: Derrick Jones Jr. had seven points, while Bradley grabbed eight boards. Alex Caruso only had five points, two assists, and four rebounds, but his defense and hustle were clearly on display especially matched up against Harden in the fourth quarter.
The true the star of the bench tonight was Ayo, who had 15 points in what was easily his best game as a pro so far. He was active on the boards too with seven rebounds, including three of them on the offensive end. Ayo was a team high plus-22 on the court and helped change the game in the second half. He has proven himself to be solidified in Chicago’s rotation, bringing defense and an ability to make teams pay in transition.
This win moves the Bulls to third in the East. The next game is Wednesday night hosting the Mavericks before going on a five-game West Coast road trip.