The Chicago Bulls have a grueling week of basketball ahead of them (four games in six days) but they got off on the right foot with a blowout 128-104 win over the San Antonio Spurs. Chicago had a double digit lead at multiple points in the first three quarters but each time their opponent stormed back, even ended up taking the lead at a point in the third as it looked like it would be another tense night at the United Center.
However, the Bulls took control of the game in the fourth and never looked back. They outscored San Antonio by 19 in the final quarter and did so in quick fashion, allowing some of the bench guys to get minutes near the end.
The real star of the show was Andre Drummond who put on an exhilarating performance in his 21 minutes of action totaling a season high 21 points and 15 rebounds (12 offensive). Drummond didn’t miss a single shot from the field, going nine of nine with all of them coming at the rim. This even included a dunk fest which came in the fourth quarter. He was everywhere on the court from slamming alley-oops to scoring off an offensive rebound. It was one of the best bench performances of the season by a Bull. Drummond’s minutes have been inconsistent throughout the season so maybe this stint of play is exactly what he needs to get back into the regular rotation more often.
Need more Andre Drummond minutes like we need air to breathe pic.twitter.com/z8KgCDL445— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) February 7, 2023
DeMar DeRozan had 19 points along with five assists on eight of 17 shooting while LaVine had 20 points and shot 50 percent from the field. His three-point shooting continues to dip, going just one of five from deep. With DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine struggling for most of the game after a strong first quarter, it was two of Chicago’s centers who took the reins offensively. Drummond’s game somewhat overshadowed Nikola Vucevic, who had another double double with a team leading 22 points and 12 rebounds. He went 10 of 18 from the floor plus dished out four assists along with two blocks.
The more important thing is that Chicago got the victory and were able to rest their stars late in the game with a second game of a back to back looming. The big three usually play heavy minutes but Vucevic only played in 24 while DeMar and Zach had 34 and 31 respectively.
Offensively Chicago shot well from the field overall at 56.2 percent but struggled from three, taking just 22 attempts and making six of them. The turnovers we’re a bit of an issue as the Bulls committed 13 of them and they only generated 27 assists on 50 made baskets. But to their credit, they made the shots necessary to pull away from a team they should be beating. They also were dominant on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 49 to 38.
Drummond wasn’t the only player in double figures off the bench as Coby White continues his impressive stretch of play with 12 points and four assists. He continues to look more comfortable in aspects of his game other than just shooting the basketball. Patrick Williams scored 11 points in 18 minutes and Ayo Dosunmu had 10. Every Bull who played in this game scored, including Dalen Terry who rose up for a dunk in garbage time.
The Spurs, who were missing several players from their already-thin rotation, were led by the 21 points of Keldon Johnson and rookie Malaki Branham contributed with 15 which including three makes from deep.
This was a solid victory and one which frankly should have been expected, though sadly this has not always been the case with Chicago this season when it comes to beating teams they are better than. Consistency is still an issue they have to fix. There were a ton of positives to takeaway from this game though with the younger players continuing to make slight progress and the bench picking up slack from the starters.
The win now makes it three in a row as they continue to hold their positioning in the Eastern Conference play-in race. It’s going to be an interesting next couple of days as the Bulls have two more games along with the trade deadline on Thursday. It remains to be seen what Chicago does at the deadline to address what direction they want to take the team for the rest of the season.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Bulls as they travel to Memphis to face off against the Grizzlies Tuesday night.