Before the game, if someone told you that to guess the score if DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine would combine for 19 points, it probably wouldn’t have been in the Chicago Bulls favor. Yet, they still managed to blowout the Charlotte Hornets at the United Center with a final score of 106-88 on the second game of a back to back.
The Bulls had the lead for much of the game, going up by nine at halftime. They withstood a quick rally at the start of the third but answered back to make it a double digit lead heading into the fourth, and then turned up the pressure to make it a 20 point game a couple of minutes in. By the halfway point of the fourth, the game was essentially into garbage time as Chicago notched their second straight win in consecutive days.
As a team the Bulls shot okay from the field with a percentage of 43.2 but were scorching hot from three-point land. They knocked down 14 of their 31 attempts (45.2) with six guys hitting two or more. The turnovers were a bit of an issue as they had 19 but the won the battle on the boards with 50 rebounds compared to the 47 of Charlotte. Chicago also shared the ball a ton, generating 28 assists on 38 made baskets.
As stated, both LaVine and DeRozan didn’t put up many points. So the offensive leader came as a bit of a surprise in Javonte Green, with 17 points on a perfect seven of seven from the field with three 3-pointers. He added eight rebounds along with two blocks and two steals. Green was everywhere in this game, his energy off the bench helped spur on the Bulls not only build but keep their lead throughout the game.
Patrick Williams, another unlikely top contributor, scored 16 points on seven of nine shooting along with six rebounds and two blocks. After a rough first seven games, Williams has now stacked two good performances back to back. This was the same play we saw from Williams in Brooklyn where he was aggressive on offense, looking for his shot and more importantly putting himself in good positions to receive the ball. Nobody is asking him to lead the team in points every night but scoring in double figures while looking confident and aggressive is a positive sign.
Goran Dragic also had 16 points off the bench as he continues his strong start to the year. He went six of nine from the field along with three assists and three rebounds. Chicago continues to get a big boost off the bench whenever he comes in for point guard relief. He has to improve his two-point shooting percentage but his three-point shooting was effective as he made 50 percent of his attempts.
Derrick Jones Jr. was the third Bull off the bench to record double figures in points with 10 along with five rebounds. He was effective playing the backup center role in the absence of Andre Drummond as Billy Donovan used him in the small ball lineups.
As for the Bulls All-Stars, DeMar contributed in other ways tonight with seven boards and five assists. He was a bit sloppy with the ball, leading the team with five turnovers. LaVine shot a bit better (four of 16) for 10 points but was still effective with his playmaking, adding six assists along with four rebounds. This was LaVine’s first time all season playing on a back to back. Nikola Vucevic recored a double double of 14 points and 13 rebounds but made only five of his 16 attempts.
As for the Hornets, they got 24 points from Kelly Oubre Jr. but as a team they struggled to stretch the floor. Charlotte shot 21.9 percent from three and committed 17 turnovers. They tried to run against the Bulls which had sporadic success early but faltered in the second half.
This was a great win for the Bulls all things considered. It’s a very positive sign when your two best players shoot poorly from the field, combine for less than 20 points, and you still win by double digits. It was a good showing of Chicago’s depth of their reserves and young guys. It was even more crucial in that the players who stepped up included Williams, a guy they need to play consistently well if the Bulls want to be a postseason contender. Green was the MVP of the game as he continues to grow as a player here.
The Bulls play next on Friday on the road against Boston.