Bulls Last The Pace

The Chicago Bulls (19-10) take on Indiana Pacers (14-19) at the United Center after a mixed week. After beating the Rockets on Monday, their game on Thursday to face the Raptors was postponed late due to Raptors struggling with players on the Covid safety protocols but it did gave the Bulls a nice little Christmas break and a chance to get players out of protocols. Which they did with Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Matt Thomas, Troy Brown Jr. all coming back. This came with the news that the Bulls got Mac McClung and Ersan Ilyasova on the hardship exemption. Unfortunately coach Billy Donovan had entered Protocols and we still don't know when he'll be back.


Onto gameday itself and the Bulls announced that they have waived Alize Johnson and given a full contract to Alfonzo McKinnie. Literally 10 minutes later its announced McKinnie has entered Protocols along with Tony Bradley, later followed by Lonzo Ball. Quite a week off the court for the Bulls. How will it translate onto the court?


1ST HALF


Onto the game itself and into the 1st. Coby White got the start and although a slow start offensively he had a solid start defensively. Bulls definitely looked like they hadn't played in a while, especially Zach LaVine who started slowly. All of a sudden they woke up with a couple of 3s and a monster dunk from LaVine. The 1st finished with the Bulls up 33-27.


1st Quarter Stats

  • Vucevic: 8pts/5reb/1ast

  • LaVine: 7pts/1reb/3ast/1stl

  • Green: 5pts/1reb

  • Brown Jr.: 5pts


Into the second and the Bulls come out ready to go and extend to a 10 point lead within 2:30 minutes.


Coby White showed a lot of aggression getting to the rim with his 3 not falling and yet another monster dunk, this time from Javonte Green, and it seems the Bulls are having fun while the Pacers seem to be struggling. Especially from 3, going 3/12 in the 1st half. Bulls finish the half up 15 at of 63-48. (63 in the 1st half, they scored 77 all together last time out against the Pacers).




One player who isn't struggling is Nikola Vucevic who finishes the half with:

  • 13 points (6-8 FG)

  • 7 boards

  • 2 blocks

  • 2 steals


Can the Bulls keep this up through the 2nd half?


2ND HALF


Into the 3rd and the Pacers come out wanting to close the gap, especially Chris Duarte who starts to hit 3s and some good hustle on D. A frustrating quarter for the Bulls sees it finish 79-87, Bulls up by 8. Through the 1st half Bulls had 6 turnovers, they had 6 in this quarter alone and DeMar DeRozan looking very frustrated at the end of the quarter. Will he become our 4th quarter King (again)?


The 4th starts with a dunk from Tyler Cook who's got some big minutes as backup centre tonight. At the half way point of the fourth the Bulls have restored their 15 point lead but the Pacers just won't go away. Luckily the lead was big enough for the Bulls to get the W and get to 20 wins on the season. 10 games over .500 for 1st time since January 2016. Finals score at 113-105 Bulls.


POSTGAME STATS

  • LaVine: 32p/4r/5a/1s/1b

  • DeRozan: 24p/3r/3a/2s

  • Vucevic: 16p/15r/3a/2s/2b

  • Green: 13p/4r/1a

  • White: 8p/2r/1a/1b

  • Dosunmu: 6p/2r/1b

  • Brown Jr: 5p/2r/2a

  • Thomas: 5p/3r/2a

  • Cook: 4p/5r/1b






Final Takeaway


Bulls 1st half performance got them this W as the 2nd half Pacers kept closing but fortunately not close enough. Nikola Vucevic had another solid outing with 16pts, 15 rebs and Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan look good together again both hitting 20+ again (LaVine with 32 on his return). Coby White got the start and although his 3 didn't work (0/4) and he only had 8 points, he showed some good defense and was aggressive to the rim.



Once again you can't really take too much from this with all the players out in Protocols but the Bulls getting the W is what's important. They're playing winning basketball despite everything. They go again tomorrow in a road trip to Covid ravaged Atlanta to face the Hawks.


-Matt H (Twitter:@matthearn1)

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