Bulls are back!!! (But for how long?)

After a Covid enforced break for the Bulls (17-10) they finally returned to face the Lakers (16-14) at the United Center and it honestly felt like Christmas came early! Although things have started to look upwards a little for the Bulls with players coming out of Protocols, the landscape for the rest of the NBA looks slightly different. How long the league will continue to let the season run with the on going Covid issue is anyone's guess as both teams come into this still massively shorthanded, having 6 players in Protocols, as well as Lakers head coach Frank Vogel. The Lakers also have Chicago native Anthony Davis ruled out for at least 4 weeks with a knee injury.


The game itself is a big chance for Coby White to show what he can do in the absence of Zach LaVine and Ayo Dosunmu, plus a big game from Nikola Vucevic would be great to see from a fans perspective. From the Lakers point of view, a team that has LeBron James in their starting line-up is always going to be a tough match up.



1ST HALF


Into the 1st and it's a fast start from both teams. Coach Donovan giving Caruso the start which means a big effort from the bench will be required. Both teams looking a little poor on the defensive end to start but the Bulls finish the 1st up 28-22. Even with the struggles on defense, they kept LeBron James to 2 points (1/6) through the 1st. Lonzo Ball had 9pts and DeMar DeRozan with 6 pts


Into the 2nd and the Lakers come out fast, getting to within 2 (30-28) within 2 minutes and it was overall a frustrating 2nd quarter for the Bulls as the Lakers just wouldn't go away. Every time they opened a lead the Lakers would claw their way back. We have to remember at this point that this Bulls team did not really have much time together in the last few weeks with players coming and going and it gets worse as the Bulls announce in the second that Derrick Jones Jr (late return from Protocols) will not return to the game due to a hamstring injury. The half ends with the Bulls up 61-59.


HALFTIME STATS

  • Nikola Vucevic 13 pts, 3/4 3P

  • DeMar DeRozan 14 pts, 8/8 FT

  • Lonzo Ball 15 pts, 4 ast

  • Bulls also have 16 pts off 10 Laker turnovers

  • LeBron James 10 pts 5/12 FGs (numerous overturned calls)



2ND HALF


Into the 3rd and the Bulls start off like they've not played a game in 8 days and the Lakers eventually take the lead after 3 minutes. It continues through the quarter as they just can't seem to get a grip on the game as it goes back and forth with both teams taking the lead and losing it straight away. End of 3rd and the Lakers have the lead 84-83. LeBron has a good third with 22 pts on 9-17 FGs while DeRozan has 19 pts, Vooch and Caruso have 17 apiece.




In the 4th and the Bulls are looking for their 4th quarter King to step up in DeMar DeRozan. It starts with a lot of whistles from the officials leading to a frustrating quarter but then a huge dunk from Coby White ignites the offense and helps his poor start. Back to back 3s from Carmelo Anthony with 5 left halts the Bulls momentum until a frantic end to the game sees them up 113-110 after 2 DeRozan FTs with 15.6 left on the clock. The Lakers miss a couple of 3s and 2 final free throws from Ball see it out. Bulls sweep the Lakers for a final score of 115-110.


POSTGAME STATS

  • DeRozan 38 pts; 16-17 FTs

  • Vucevic 19 pts; 13 rebs

  • Caruso 17 pts, 9 rebs


Final Takeaway


The Bulls looked a lot like they haven't played in 8 days, even longer for some players, and that was to be expected. The starters for the Bulls got it done with big games from DeRozan, Ball, Caruso and Vucevic. Javonte Green and Coby White really seemed to struggle on the offensive end after returning from Protocols but DeMar DeRozan comes through as the 4th quarter King with 19 points in the 4th.


Obviously a shorthanded roster for both teams but the Bulls bench did enough to hold off the Lakers when they needed to. Despite everything that's happening around the league it was certainly an enjoyable game to watch and it felt good to see Bulls back. I just hope it continues.

Bulls play again tomorrow at the UC against Houston Rockets.


-Matt H (Twitter:@matthearn1)

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