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Finding the good in a “bad” Bulls win

Chicago almost coughed up a 20+ point lead to a Cade Cunningham-less Pistons

Chicago Bulls v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

Our Chicago Bulls did their darnedest in the fourth quarter, but they ultimately just couldn’t quite fumble away a 21-point late third quarter advantage to lose to a terrible Detroit Pistons team missing its best player last night in Detroit.

Let’s get into what went right, with some necessary caveats.

Zach LaVine’s big night

Zach was once again on the attack, at least on offense. He was scoring from everywhere — from deep (he shot 6-of-9 from three-point land), from the midrange with some practically DeMar-esque midrange takes around the elbows and free throw line, and inside on drives. LaVine was getting buckets from all three levels, including going 7-of-7 from the charity stripe. All told, he finished with 41 points on 14-of-20 shooting from the floor, a rebound, a block, a steal, and zero dimes. A perfect Zach night, really.

The three-point shooting did not come off “gimmes,” as LaVine made triples even with a hand in his face:

He blew Stacey King’s mind with this pull-up take, on the shot where he put the Bulls up to their biggest lead of the night:

He would go on to finish with 19 points in the third frame on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 shooting from the foul line.

DeRozan hogged the ball a bit late, as Chicago didn’t quite feature LaVine enough in the fourth quarter with his own plays or pick-and-pop actions (although he conversely set plenty of screens for DDR) to get him closer to the 50 points he probably deserved to net. LaVine took just one field goal try in the final period, though he did get to the line a decent amount (finishing 5-of-5). Even Patrick Williams took more shots from the field than Zach LaVine!

Patrick Beverley had an ultimate Patrick Beverley Game

Playing his most minutes yet for his hometown team (33:10), the 34-year-old turned in a very Patrick Beverleycore line, scoring just five points on 2-of-4 shooting while dishing out 10 dimes, grabbing 10 rebounds, swiping four steals, and rejecting one shot. In terms of his glass cleaning aptitude, Pat Bev pulled down six defensive rebounds against a long, athletic Pistons team determined to muck up the works down low.

His defense at the point of attack was especially notable, as he hounded rookie guard Jaden Ivey all night. It didn’t always work out, but when things clicked, he looked pretty much like Prime Pat.

Another fun Pat Bev moment happened when he was actually not playing for the Bulls. The veteran point guard ran onto the court to encourage reserve guard Coby White to keep shooting, after the fourth-year player hit his third triple midway through the game’s second quarter:

This kind of generous support for a young pup serves as an interesting approach to galvanizing Coby’s play. Chicago is clearly feeling the “Pat Bev Effect,” having gone 3-1 across its four bouts with its new starting point guard. Here’s hoping Chicago “Big Three” is taking notes.

The Bulls almost gave up a 20+ point advantage — again

The Pistons used a scrambling defense and plenty of three-point shooting, a lot of which stemmed from Bojan Bogdanovic, to claw their way back into the game and tie things up at 108-108. Chicago was outscored 29-16 in the fourth quarter of essentially a must-win game against an absolutely terrible team that very much wanted to lose.

Had Chicago fallen last night, it would have represented the team’s fourth blown 20+ point lead this year.

Instead, No. 5 2022 draft pick Jaden Ivey pulled a Chris Webber Special, calling a timeout when his Pistons were fresh out and disrupting any flow Detroit had established during its comeback. It’s quite possible that the Pistons, whose energy had previously never wavered in the fourth quarter and who still only lost by two points thanks to a banked Cory Joseph trey, would have pulled out the win.

The Bulls really needed this W, which brought the team to a 29-34 record on the season, just a game behind the 10th-seeded Wizards. Let’s just hope Friday’s inevitable loss against Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns is over quickly.