The Chicago Bulls continued their strong play against the top tier teams in the Eastern Conference with a 121-112 win over the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center. Chicago now moves to 6-1 over the current conference top 3 seeds, though still just 17-21 on the season.
The Bulls got off to a fast stat, scoring 40 points and going up seven at the end of the first quarter. Despite a monster game from Kevin Durant, the Bulls were able to hold off Brooklyn in the fourth quarter and avoid any late game drama. They crucially won the minutes where Durant was off the court and build up a sizable lead in the fourth quarter.
Chicago had a balanced offensive attack, with all five starters plus Coby White scoring in double figures. DeMar DeRozan was the co-leader with 22, he struggled from the field and only got it going in the fourth quarter, which helped put the game away. He added seven rebounds and three assists along with six free throw makes,
Surprisingly the other person with that amount was Patrick Williams, which was a career high. Williams started out scorching in the first half but cooled down in the second. He shot well from downtown, knocking down three of his attempts and added seven rebounds too. This was a strong bounce back performance from Williams especially after his mistake late against Cleveland.
Nikola Vucevic had a double double of 21 points and 13 points, going eight of 12 from the field. Zach LaVine had a rough time offensively, going four of 13 from the field with 13 points but made his presence felt in other areas with five rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. Ayo Dosunmu had 17 points while shooting 50 percent from the field. He added seven rebounds and even had a nice chase down block on Kevin Durant.
Ayo’s minutes were even more critical given Alex Caruso left another game early with a sprained ankle after landing on Ben Simmons’s foot. It would be a crushing blow to Chicago if he misses anymore time he already has.
Bulls won the battle on the boards 46 to 34 and generated 21 assists on their 43 made baskets. They had 11 more FTs made than Brooklyn. For the Nets, it was mostly Durant keeping them in the game with 44 points on 15 of 22 shooting. Kyrie Irving added 25 while Seth Curry knocked six threes in a 22 point effort. On the other end of the spectrum, Royce O’Neale was 0-8 from three and 0-9 overall to go scoreless in over 34 minutes.
The Bulls continue to mystify as they win the tough games but struggle in the ones where they should win or are in complete control. They are just outside the play-in spots as we head closer and closer to the trade deadline. It remains to be seen what direction they take in February but as of now, the Bulls are continuing to pick themselves up after a rock bottom start in December. Each time it looks like Chicago is down for the count, they pick themselves up for another win. The worrying thing is you never know which Bulls team you will get from game to game or even quarter to quarter.
They get another chance at a top East team next, with a weekend back to back starting with a visit to Philadelphia to play the 76ers on Friday.