That’s a good win.
Talk about how the Mavericks didn’t have Kristaps Prozingis or Luka Doncic on the court all you want, but in the world of Bulls basketball, that’s a good win no matter what.
The Mavericks were a playoff team last season, and they will be a playoff team this season. They have a strong supporting cast around their two All-Stars, and those players gave the Bulls a run for their money tonight. Yet, down four of their own players, Chicago was able to actually do something they failed to do time and again last season – close out a game.
The Billy Donovan effect continues to be a legitimate factor. While the Bulls did see a 9-point lead become a one-score game in the middle of the 4th quarter, they were surprisingly able to gain back their sizable advantage in the final two minutes of action. Rather than hang their head low and panic like in seasons past, they kept their head screwed on straight, hit a couple of big shots, grabbed a couple of big rebounds, and had a few defensive stands. In other words, they looked well-coached, and they looked well-motivated.
Of course, Donovan doesn’t get all the props, though. The Bulls wouldn’t have handled this depleted Mavs team without the flame-thrower performance by Zach LaVine. In easily his best game of the season, LaVine posted 39 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. The man scored 29 of those points in the first half, which is the most by any NBA player in the first half this season.
When he struggled to light the same torch in the second half, his right-hand man was there to carry the Bulls offensive attack. Coby White dropped 21 points in the second half, and he also finished with 4 assists and 7 rebounds to his name.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 4, 2021
Coby. Count it. pic.twitter.com/luLUk26iPg
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 4, 2021
At the end of the day, this win just further demonstrated the change this organization is trying to make. Some might not want to give the team credit and simply label it as a game they were “supposed to win,” but to those people, I ask them to consider whether or not the Bulls won those games last season. The answer is no, and doing so is an important step this organization needs to take before they’re anywhere near a truly competitive mark.
Getting a win before a grueling four-game western conference road trip also can’t hurt their confidence. The Trail Blazers, Kings, Lakers, and Clippers are on the schedule for this week, so buckle up.