After Friday night’s loss to San Antonio, it was clear that the Chicago Bulls offense has to play lights out: without Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball, the defense has taken a massive hit. And against the Portland Trail Blazers on a Sunday matinee, the Bulls offense got big contributions from nearly everyone leading to a 130-116 win. Six players scored in double digits including the big three of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic, who combined for 67 points. It was an especially good game from Vucevic, who shot 11 of 15 from the field and grabbed 14 rebounds for another double double.
The Bulls as a team shot 55 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. Chicago moved the ball exceptionally well, hitting the Boylen Line of 36 dimes on 50 makes, with both Ayo Dosunmu and DeRozan hitting double-figures in the assists category. The Bulls won the turnover battle as well, with just seven compared to twelve mistakes from the Blazers, leading to 20 Bulls points.
It was looking dicey in the first quarter as Portland came out scorching hot from downtown, hitting seven shots from deep leading to 35 points in the quarter. Chicago’s defense was still having trouble rotate over quickly enough when the ball was swung around the perimeter, leaving Blazers shooters open. Luckily for Chicago, their offense was clicking as well. Vucevic got going early with seven. Javonte Green also made an offensive impact as well. Portland seemed keen on leaving him open near the three-point line and he made them pay. Green splashed a shot from deep and also cut into the vacated space he was given for easy shots. Thanks to the effort specifically from those two, Chicago was only down 35-29.
The Bulls responded with a three-point barrage of their own to start the second. Coby White knocked down three shots from deep in a matter of minutes to give Chicago the lead. White finished with 18 after going cold against the Magic and Raptors.
Coby hit 3 threes in 1 min 42 seconds. https://t.co/lPoHIgRnkD— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 30, 2022
The teams continued to trade the lead as it seemed neither team could get a stop, but things started to turn the Bulls way with around five minutes left in the half, including a LaVine slam that had the United Center rocking.
By the time the first half had ended, the Bulls had scored 73 points, 44 points in the quarter alone, and were up eight.
We had seen from previous games that a double digit lead isn’t always safe with this team, but in this one the Bulls kept their foot on the gas ballooning the lead to 17 as the ball movement was on full display. The lead shrunk below double digits at one point, but then the Bulls offense in the early moments of the fourth came from an unlikely contributor in Matt Thomas, who had eight points in that time.
The closest the game got after that was 14 points, which was in the final seconds.
Special mention to Tony Bradley, from whom Chicago got some really solid minutes as he scored 10 points while grabbing six rebounds and three steals.
This was a good win, as there will always be questions about the defense given the injuries, but the offense did its job and were clicking all game, at their best a combined 76 points in the second and third quarters.
This victory meant they have already matched last years win total. Next up is a rematch against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night, hopefully avenging one of their worst losses of the season.