Another game, another DeMar DeRozan rescue-job. Coming from behind in the final couple minutes, the Bulls got another close win against a mid-level opponent due to DeRozan’s late game shotmaking in another 35+ point night for the All Star starter as the Bulls got their first game in the 2nd half in the win column with a 112-108 home victory.
The prior few minutes in the middle of the 4th quarter saw the Bulls in meltdown mode. They were not getting good shots and even when DeRozan was inserted back into the lineup the Hawks were effectively double and triple-teaming him. Meanwhile the Hawks were methodically attacking matchups either straight-up or after switches, and saw themselves in control of the game with less than 2 minutes remaining.
But the Bulls, and DeRozan, pulled out the victory. DeMar had another couple mid-range jumpers, and Atlanta alternated with two brutal Trae Young efforts.
Ayo defense on Young. DeRozan clutch bucket and 1. pic.twitter.com/0bukX4uSZs— Ⓜ️ ▶️ (@_MarcusD3_) February 25, 2022
Then with a two point lead, the Bulls defense stoutly defended (with a close-out from Vuc) a Bogdanovic three-point attempt and the Bulls iced the game at the line.
It was the story of the game: both DeMar’s now absurdly-dependable heroics but also another poor game for Trae Young against the Bulls. Ayo Dosunmu received the primary assignment and once again proved his defensive chops against the All-Star leader of Atlanta. Both he and Coby White were called for many fouls in this game, but that was Young’s only productivity: 8 of his 14 points came at the line as he went 3-17 from the field including an improbably-bad 0-5 from three.
It wasn’t just in winning time for DeRozan, as the Bulls ran out to a 10-0 lead to begin the game with DeRozan having 12 points halfway through the opening quarter. He had 22 of the Bulls 52 first half points, putting De’Andre Hunter in a torture chamber so devastating that Hunter didn’t play after leaving the game with an illness in the 3rd quarter.
The non-DeRozan Bulls were cold, though, as were the Hawks. Neither team shot well from distance in the first half but the Hawks hung close at just a 2-point deficit behind their pick-and-roll offense leading to lob finishes by the bigs. And in the wake of Young’s struggles (to be generous, he did have 10 assists), the duo of Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danillo Gallinari were huge. Bogdanovic had 27 off the bench and Gallo had 26.
Beyond DeRozan and Dosunmu (12 points on 9 shots to go along with that great defense) the rest of the team had unspectacular nights. LaVine had a very quiet 20, and Vuc snapped back to his early season self in this one with 13 shots to get 12 points.
The 3rd man in this one may have indeed been new Bull Tristan Thompson. I chuckled at Stacey King going bananas for Thompson’s debut. Overhyping marginal additions is nothing new (I fondly recall Tom Dore exalting the shooting prowess of Demetrius Nichols) and yeah it’s simply not practical to be calling for Thompson post-up opportunities, but the guy did have a really good debut: in 13 minutes Thompson had 11 points and 6 rebounds, including a couple classic offensive board putbacks (that is classic Thompson, Stacey).
But overall the Bulls still did not rebound well and it kept Atlanta in this game at points, giving up a 26% offensive rebound rate but only getting 15.8% of potential second chances themselves. And while both teams shot poorly from three, the Hawks gave the Bulls the gift of missing 9 free throws as the Bulls had identical attempts but made 4 more. Hey that’s what they won the game by!