After Ayo Dosunmu’s buzzer beater on Wednesday, the Chicago Bulls continued to find themselves on the winning side of a crunch time game two nights later as they beat New York Knicks 118-117. This was the Bulls’ 3rd straight win, all of them coming on the road and missing several rotation players
In this one, the Bulls kept hanging around though not leading for much of the fourth quarter. Then thanks to poor free throw shooting by the Knicks where they missed 4 attempts in the final minute, Chicago had a chance for the win with six seconds remaining. Like he did last season, DeMar DeRozan rose to the challenge.
DEMAR DEROZAN PUTS THE BULLS AHEAD WITH 0.4 SECONDS TO PLAY pic.twitter.com/G7HaX2V35A— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 24, 2022
On the subsequent free throw attempt, DeRozan smartly threw the ball off the rim and got his own offensive rebound. After an official review of whether the free throw hit the rim or not, the Bulls were given the ball side out of bounds and with 0.03 seconds left that iced the game.
The big three cooking offensively is the recipe to success for the Bulls. They combined for 79 points and were absolutely the reason why they won this game. DeRozan notched 25 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds. He hit six of his seven attempts from the line. Nikola Vucevic also notched a double double of his own with 21 points and 12 rebounds, shooting 50% from the field and making some timely baskets in the second half. Zach LaVine was the team leader with 33 points, he shot efficiently from the field (12-22), hitting four shots from downtown and going to the line five times.
Zach's two CLUTCH buckets in the final minute.— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) December 24, 2022
Zach LaVine in NY: 33 points, 12-22 FG, 4 threes. pic.twitter.com/205XTrG5NQ
The Bulls once again shot the 3-ball well against the Knicks, going 14 of 31 (45.2%). They were outrebounded again by New York, but this time not by too much of a margin. The big difference why the Bulls were able to hang around for much of the game was due to committing just four turnovers all game.
The Knicks were led by a monster night from RJ Barrett who scored 44 points including six makes from downtown. Julius Randle had 29 while Immanuel Quickley dropped 15 points off the bench.
This was another impressive win for the Bulls as they close out the road trip with a record of 3-1, after what looked like the bottom of their season giving up 150 in Minnesota the feeling is a bit different. Additionally impressive is Billy Donovan requiring a super short rotation in these games their 4th in 6 nights, and this latest one with Alex Caruso, Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr. all out. The Bulls played just three guys off the bench with Goran Dragic getting extra time and leading the bench in scoring with nine including two three-pointers. Coby White had 2 three-pointers as well to finish with 8. Andre Drummond scored six points while grabbing eight rebounds and played an extended stretch alongside Vucevic for that first look all season.
Chicago still has ways to go before we can confidently say that they can make the playoffs but they have shown recent improvements. The offense looks a lot less cluttered and the intensity has ramped up on defense.
Of course, it also helps that Chicago is also winning close games. Seeing victories have the Bulls showing signs of life where it was looking like the consistent clutch losses were demoralizing them.
The Bulls get Christmas off, and will return home to face the Rockets on Monday.