Two streaks were ended tonight. When your Chicago Bulls took down the visiting Boston Celtics with a 121-107 drubbing, it ended the Bulls’ four-game losing streak, as well as the Celtics’ nine-game winning streak.
For whatever reason, the Bulls always seem to get up for games against the 13-4 Celtics, and are now 2-1 on the season against the top-seeded club in the Eastern Conference. The win moves the Bulls up to a 7-10 record on the year.
Chicago’s pass-happy offense (26 assists!) and engaged defensive communication, along with the crazy late-game clutch-ness of DeMar DeRozan, helped the Bulls snuff out the Celtics once again.
The Bulls’ defensive intensity was the standout element of the game’s beginning. Chicago limited the Celtics to just 6-of-22 shooting (27%) from the floor in the first, plus six turnovers in that period alone (the Bulls were responsible for four steals).
Boston settled down in the 2nd a bit, but the Bulls closed the first half leading big, 63-50. Zach LaVine (10 points on 4-of-11 shooting) and DeRozan (13 points on 5-of-12 shooting) were, fittingly enough, the only Bulls in double figures at the end of the half. Zach also enjoyed a solid defensive half, battling through screens and nabbing a critical strip of Jaylen Brown. Patrick Williams, en route to his highest-scoring game of the season so far, had a solid, efficient, first half, notching nine points of his own on 4-of-6 shooting.
Nikola Vucevic feasted on a Celtics frontline that was badly missing the athleticism and size of still-injured All-Defensive Teamer Robert Williams III. Watch him roast Al Horford here:
A batch of fast-break scoring (lots of Ayo Dosunmu, Paw and Zach) helped the Bulls go on an 11-0 run to kick off 2nd half. The lead ballooned to as much as 21 late in the period thanks to some clutch midrange buckets from DeMar DeRozan.
In the 4th, Boston went on a quick 11-0 run. After Jaylen Brown led Boston for much of the second and third quarters, Jayson Tatum and Malcolm Brogdon helped the Celtics work their way back into the game,
This excellent Patrick Williams take against Tatum stopped the bleeding:
The game was a bit too close for our liking throughout much of the quarter, as the Celtics continued to chip away at the Bulls’ advantage.
But once again DeRozan was really in his bag. A crazy falling-down triple over a Hauser/Smart double team from DeMar DeRozan helped the Bulls push their lead to 102-89 late:
Then he seemed ready to explode to the rack once again when he instead showed off his passing acumen, dishing to Alex Caruso late for the lay-in:
A ridiculous play by DeRozan to get AC the rock pic.twitter.com/VuU98DR82s— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) November 22, 2022
DeRozan finished with 28 points on 11-of-24 shooting, eight boards, four assists, and a steal. Williams notched his season-high 17 on 6-of-9 shooting, he also grabbed four rebounds.
LaVine scored 22 points on 8-of-20 shooting, in a huge bounce-back game from that miserable 1-of-14 performance against the Magic Friday. He had a couple threes in the 4th quarter to help stave off Boston runs, one of which moved him into 2nd in franchise history (tied with Ben Gordon, behind Kirk Hinrich).
Nikola Vucevic enjoyed a productive night on limited touches, constantly exploiting mismatches against the Celtics. He went 6-of-7 from the floor for 12 points, but frequently looked to engage his teammates, as evidenced by his six assists. He also pulled down 13 rebounds. Chicago enjoyed comfortable advantages in rebounding (51-38), points in the paint (44-34), and field goal shooting (51.7%-43.7%).
Dosunmu and Caruso each had 10 points apiece, with Caruso having two clutch steals in the fourth quarter:
Backup point guard Goran Dragic departed the game with a left shoulder strain, which freed up more first-half minutes for Coby White. Dragic would ultimately return to the contest and try to play through the pain, but appeared encumbered and only played seven minutes. Even with Dragic ailing, the Bulls’ bench scored 32 points and grabbed 18 rebounds (12 of those were Andre Drummond’s, in just 13 minutes).
The Bulls were not in a good place at all heading into this game. But they stopped the bad vibes and put together a complete performance against a very good opponent to hopefully get out of the biggest hole they’ll be in this season. Can Chicago keep the good times rolling against the East’s other best team, the Milwaukee Bucks? They will try on Wednesday.