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3 big things from Bulls - Hawks, including where Atlanta duped Chicago in the final moments

the good and the bad from a competitive loss

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

Last night, your Chicago Bulls lost a heartbreaker in overtime against a solid Atlanta Hawks team on the second night of a back-to-back, falling 123-122.

On paper, that actually sounds like an acceptable defeat, considering Alex Caruso missed the game, Javonte Green was clearly still hurt and playing limited minutes, and Ayo Dosunmu went down with an abdominal contusion midway through the proceedings. And of course there’s the Lonzo Ball of it all. But on the other side of the fence, the Atlanta Hawks were without their second and (maybe) third-best players, 2022 All-Star guard Dejounte Murray and starting power forward John Collins.

So, despite being on a back-to-back, this altogether was a very winnable game for the Bulls. Thanks mostly to the heroics of their own All-Star, DeMar DeRozan (who had his ninth 30+ point game this year), Chicago almost did just that in the OT. DeRozan was fantastic, scoring 34 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the floor and 14-of-15 free throws (including nailing all three of his final tries of the night, after getting his defender, Bogdan Bogdanovic, to bite on a pump fake from beyond the arc with a second left in OT). DDR also grabbed 13 rebounds and passed for eight assists (against just one turnover).

The Bulls other All-Star, Zach LaVine, played solidly. He looked comfortable getting to the rim, but struggled to convert from deep (he went 1-of-5 from three) .

Anyway, let’s unpack some of the other, perhaps less-heralded high/lowlights of a strange battle in the ATL:

The Bulls struggled to contain a deadly Hawks PnR

Part of this comes down to a personnel issue. With no Alex Caruso (or Lonzo Ball) to start the game, the Bulls were already going to be at something of a disadvantage against a Trae Young-led pick-and-roll attack with two rim-rolling bigs in Onyeka Onkongwu and Clint Capella. After Ayo Dosunmu went down, the Bulls struggled even more with this.

A bit earlier in the game, Onyeka Onkongwu had opted to roll to the rack himself on the same action, rather than dish out to Bogdan Bogdanovic in the corner for the triple try:

Chicago at least was eventually aware of its difficulties in containing this, so the team was preemptively ready to react to the overtime period’s final 0.5 seconds.

The Bulls expected to be yet another pick-and-roll play, with Trae Young sprinting out to the top of the key, but the Hawks were faking out the Bulls’ defense to free up rookie AJ Griffin beneath the basket to receive the inbounds. Griffin was able to cut baseline behind his distracted defender, Jones, and squeeze out the game-winning floater, in a move that Atlanta assistant Joe Prunty had apparently used to fake out a much better Bulls team during the 2014-15 season:

Ouch.

Coby White is annoyingly essential to this roster

Though the Bulls have reportedly made Coby White available via trade before, and there was no contract extension given last offseason, he just might be too important on the hardwood for this current roster to give him up.

White is pretty much the Bulls’ only reliable three-point threat on volume, as he demonstrated multiple times last night. White is a career 36.2% shooter from long range on 5.9 tries a game, though for this season he is averaging a pedestrian 32.1% of his 4.5 threes a game.

I’m not concerned, he will raise those averages. The kid has no fear. Watch him dribble into this long trey:

And here he is icing a corner three off a DDR dish:

Especially if Caruso or Dosunmu have to miss extended time, the Bulls kinda just need White around in the backcourt. Though always more of an offensive player, he looked pretty solid defensively Sunday. The 6’4” UNC product played 31:28 tonight and scored 12 points. All of his buckets were threes (he was 4-of-9 from deep and 4-of-12 overall).

He also had six rebounds, four assists, and one very, very key steal at the end of regulation:

*

A good Drummond game!

After Andre Drummond came under fire on this very website by this very writer literally three days ago for being relatively ineffective since returning from a shoulder injury, he responded with his best game since October.

He got his offense pretty much how you’d expect:

In just 16:23, Drummond scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, pulled down nine rebounds, and is such a game-changing force when he’s active around the glass. Drummond also had five (!) steals, just one less than the rest of his teammates combined.