Good, dare I say, professional victory for the Bulls last night at home facing the hodgepodge Utah Jazz. The Bulls were on a back-to-back, and potentially looked to be fading in the 2nd half of this game. But instead, in the 4th some 3s started to fall, and both LaVine and DeRozan turned it up as the Bulls up up a 42-point final period in the 126-118 victory.
LaVine had 3 threes on consecutive offensive possessions in the fourth for 12 points overall, and DeRozan had 5 FTs with 5 FGs to finish with 15. After pretty brutal games to that point, Patrick Williams and Coby White added 11 combined in that fourth quarter. What was a back and forth 3rd quarter turned into a comfortable double-digit lead as the Jazz do not have close to the equivalent go-to shotmakers that the Bulls do.
LaVine continued his great play (several Zach-esque bad turnovers aside) supplemented by hot 3-point shooting, putting up 12 attempts to make half of them to finish with a team-high 36 points. DeMar was one behind and led the Bulls edge at the free throw line with 10 of the team’s 32 attempts (Zach had 7).
The Jazz are young and bad (finding that level after a hot start to the season) and try to make that up by shooting far more three pointers. So they actually made the same amount as the Bulls team in this game but it took 13 more attempts. They also were doing a great job in the pick and roll and scoring way too many (and too easy) inside baskets. Ex-Bull Lauri Markannen led the Jazz with 28, making up for his poor 3-point shooting (2/7) with a career high in dunks.
The Bulls defense did not look great for much of this game, perhaps simply worn down from all the games and missing several rotation players. Bulls only went 9 deep in this back-to-back.
But this was a win for a team vision of having mid-tier stars and CONTINUITY. The Jazz, who have a decent record but we know what the are ultimately doing, faded down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Bulls best players closed the door.
Are the Bulls good now? That’s a bigger question, and I’d argue a more serious one after Saturday’s win than Friday’s. Bulls had the schedule breaks against them here but closed it out by overwhelming the opponent and not on so much luck. Sure, Jazz went sub 30% from three but it wasn’t THAT much of an outlier.
Whether actually good (more like ‘firmly average’) or not, the Ws are helping in the standings. Bulls are now only 2 games under .500 and in 9th in the East. It’s another ‘game against an actually good team’ Monday night against the Celtics, we’ll have to see if Boston thinks the Bulls are good or not depending on their effort in that one.