Zach LaVine is back.
...and good things finally happened to your Chicago Bulls. LaVine was far from the star of the game, but was good enough to at least contribute to Chicago’s 120-99 victory over a Charlotte Hornets team that isn’t half bad. It also snapped a four-game losing streak and helped the Bulls move to 3-0 against the Hornets this season.
Admittedly, LaVine was a little rusty in his first game back after an extended stay in health protocols. He scored 13 points on 5-for-11 from the field. It was all part of a balanced offensive effort that featured seven Bulls in double figures. It was LaVine’s first game since April 14.
Nikola Vucevic continues to roll right along. Outside of getting posterized by a Martin twin during fourth quarter garbage time, the Bulls big man didn’t do much wrong all night. He scored 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds recording a double-double for his sixth consecutive game.
The Bulls also got off to a better start tonight. They led by 10 points after one quarter, putting up 34 points in the process. They used a 16-point advantage in the third quarter to pull away for good and the Hornets never seriously threatened after that.
Perhaps more important than any of the individual counting statistics from LaVine and Vucevic was the fact that they were collectively a +10 in the 18 minutes that they shared the court together. Bulls rookie Patrick Williams was a game-high +19. Thaddeus Young also had a pretty cool dunk.
The Hornets, who sit at No. 8 in the Eastern Conference right now, were missing Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges, Gordon Hayward, and Cody Martin.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, this could be too little too late as the march to an inevitable NBA lottery pick nears its conclusion with just six games to play. The Washington Wizards and Indiana Pacers both won tonight.
The Bulls have six games left on the schedule. Four of them are tough/really tough (Brooklyn twice, Milwaukee, and Boston), they should beat the Pistons, and then they have a matchup against the Toronto Raptors which could loom large given the proximity of the two teams in the standings.