• Sure, the Chicago Bulls are only 11-15. And, fine, their injury trouble hasn’t necessarily gone away. But, damn it, if this isn’t the most fun we’ve had watching Bulls basketball in years. Last night’s OT victory against the Indiana Pacers was a great reminder that things are actually trending in the right direction for this organization. The Bulls had lost 10-straight to Indiana, and this marked their first victory in Indianapolis since Pau Gasol wore a Bulls jersey (crazy). I know shooting off the confetti cannons for one regular-season win isn’t worth it, but snapping that brutal streak is worth at least a sip of champagne, right?
• It’s also not like the Bulls didn’t beat a quality Pacers squad (unless we count the absence of Dougie McBuckets a massive deal?). After coming off two relatively dominant wins of the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, I’m sure the Pacers had the Bulls circled as a “game we’re supposed to win.” For the past several seasons, the Bulls rarely – if ever – played spoiler on those nights. Baby steps.
Overtime win for the good guys!
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 16, 2021
• Zach LaVine’s ridiculous 3-pointer over Domantas Sabonis was the play of the game, and the Bulls 15-7 run in the overtime period was ultimately what sealed the deal, but I think we need to give a tip of the hat to the Coby-Sato-Temple-Thad-Denzel lineup we saw at the end of the third quarter. After blowing a 10-point lead the Bulls found themselves down to the surging Pacers 70-69 with 1:55 to go in the quarter. White and Temple entered the game to help right the ship, and the Bulls rattled off 10-straight points to head into the 4th quarter with a 79-70 advantage. Instead of folding under the pressure, these boys were able to swing the momentum back on the Bulls side. For a team that has struggled to have a short memory time and again, that was an encouraging sign.
• Coby White not only jump-started that explosive stretch for the Bulls with a 3-pointer, but he assisted on two of the team’s next three shots. All in all, the second-year guard played a game-high 44 minutes and finished with 19 points, 8 assists, and 7 rebounds. His ability to shake off his early turnovers due to the aggressive ball pressure from TJ McConnell was exactly what you’d hope to see, and head coach Billy Donovan made sure to recognize that after the game: “He’s got a really great ability to course-correct and get almost more competitive, more engaged and want to figure it out. I’ve been around some guys where things don’t go their way, they lose it for the whole game … you feel good that you know when it’s not going well for him that he is going to fight harder. And I like that about him.” Me too, coach. Me too.
Coby White did a little bit of everything in Indiana, putting up 19/8/7 and making some BIG plays down the stretch. pic.twitter.com/aRsCF9ehcQ
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 16, 2021
• Seriously, what the hell happened to Thaddeus Young? Did he find a stash of Michael’s Secret Stuff buried somewhere in the United Center? While it would never be recognized on the league-level, Young is arguably one of the most improved players on the court this season in terms of impact (and we wrote about that a bit more last week). Last night he finished 6-8 from the field with 13 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. His ability to make almost every player on the court better is captivating, and it’s also made that much more evident by the fact that all expect one of Young’s two-man combination this season sits with a positive point differential, per Basketball-Reference. When a guy is making that kind of impact on a nightly basis, I can’t say I’m surprised Zach LaVine said the following:
Zach LaVine on Thad Young: “For me personally, he’s been the MVP of the team.”
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) February 16, 2021
• Wendell Carter Jr. continued the Thaddeus Young Appreciation Tour, telling reporters after the game about how helpful it was to observe Young’s game over the past few weeks: “As a vet, he just thinks the game. He slows the game down for himself. It’s pretty impressive, especially with the games I was out, being able to really watch him, he’s a great player, and I see why he’s been in this league for so long.”
• FWIW: I liked Patrick Williams’ game last night. I know that may sound silly after a 2-10 performance from the field, but I’m just happy to see him hunting his shots. Also, it’s not like he didn’t make a positive impact in other ways. I have little doubt that his physicality, once again, proved to be a much-needed boost for this team. He hauled in 9 rebounds to help the team walk off the court with a 60-47 advantage on the glass. His aggressive presence alone helped the Bulls better manage the Sabonis-Turner backcourt, which was a must.
• VOTE ZACH LAVINE RIGHT NOW
Last day to vote sooooo …#ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar #ZachLaVine #NBAAllStar
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) February 16, 2021