Bulls basketball is back!
Er … well … a version of Bulls basketball is back!
For the first time since last Saturday’s meeting with the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls will return to action tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers. Once dealing with 10 players in the NBA’s Health and Safety Protocols, the Bulls have seen Coby White, Javonte Green, DeMar DeRozan, and Derrick Jones Jr. rejoin the team this week. White, Green, and DeRozan have already been given the thumbs up to take the floor tonight, but Jones’ status remains up in the air as he looks to get his conditioning right.
Derrick Jones Jr. is Officially Out of Health and Safety Protocolshttps://t.co/Z7FI1NXkq4
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 19, 2021
• Regardless of Jones’ status, merely having White, Green, and DeRozan back on the floor should make for a much more comforting watch. The absence of Zach LaVine will surely be felt, but the Bulls will at least have four of their five players with the most starts this season (Ball, DeRozan, Green, Vucevic). We should also note that Alex Caruso was able to use this extra time off to fully heal his lingering hamstring issue. So while plenty of players still remain in quarantine (LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Troy Brown Jr., and Alize Johnson), the Bulls should look the most healthy they have in a couple of weeks.
• Meanwhile, the Lakers can’t say the same. Los Angeles is going through its own outbreak, missing Kent Bazemore, Austin Reaves, Dwight Howard, Avery Bradley, and Talen Horton-Tucker due to protocols. We also got word that Anthony Davis would miss up to four weeks with a left knee injury on Saturday evening. The team will have Russell Westbrook, who tested out of protocols just two days ago, but this will be an equally – if not more – short-handed Lakers team at the United Center tonight.
In terms of a rotation, Lakers currently have-
Guards: Westbrook, Thomas, Rondo, Ellington
Wings: LeBron, Melo, Brown
Bigs: Jordan, Huff
— Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane) December 19, 2021
• The Lakers will also be without their head coach, who entered protocols earlier this morning. Former Grizzlies and Knicks head coach David Fizdale will act as the interim lead man moving forward.
Frank Vogel has entrees the health and safety protocols and David Fizdale will coach tonight in Chicago, the Lakers say. Also, Kent Bazemore has entered the protocols as well.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 19, 2021
• I got to be honest, I’m a tad surprised tonight’s game wasn’t added to the list of postponements. The Bulls marked the NBA’s first two postponements of the season earlier this week and the league added five other games to the list today.
The NBA announced the following postponements:
Nets-Nuggets – Sunday
Cavaliers-Hawks – Sunday
Pelicans-Sixers – Sunday
Magic-Raptors – Monday
Wizards-Nets – Tuesday
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) December 19, 2021
• Commissioner Adam Silver appears determined to keep the ball dribbling this season, but it’s hard not to be in favor of some kind of league-wide pause at this point. While I know that can turn into a logistical nightmare, every day the COVID situation around the league continues to get worse and worse. As ESPN’s Baxter Holmes noted, there have been double-digit additions to NBA protocols in five of the last six days, marking a total of 64 players/coaches being placed in quarantine this week. Postponing these upcoming games should help, but it still feels like nothing much is bound to change when a team like LA is traveling from city to city during an ongoing outbreak.
Before last Tuesday, the single-day high for NBA players entering H&S protocols: five.
But there have now been double-digit additions for 4 straight days — and 5 of the last 6 days overall.
As of this writing, 64 players and a coach have entered protocols in the past 6 days.
— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) December 19, 2021
• Also, look at some of these starting lineups we’re getting around the league! When teams have to roll like this for multiple games, it could strongly impact the legitimacy of the NBA standings. It looks like a Bulls starting from 2018!
dear god. pic.twitter.com/aXqolF5RnY
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 19, 2021
— Howard Beck (@HowardBeck) December 19, 2021
• If the games must be played, though, consider me extremely happy DeRozan will be back on the floor tonight. The NBA’s 5th-leading scorer has been one of the most fun players to watch this season with his midrange dominance and 4th quarter heroics. Over his four games before entering protocols, he averaged 29.8 points with 6.0 rebounds on an absurd 58.5 percent shooting from the field. The guy has only looked better and better as this season has gone on, and it’s been down-right special to watch.
DeRozan's four games before protocols:
That was arguably his best 4-game stretch of the year. Other options would be Oct. 30-Nov. 6th when he shot 60.8% with 32.8ppg (Bulls lost 2 to Philly tho).
I need that man back on the floor.
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 16, 2021
• With that said, I do have to wonder what kind of DeRozan we will see over these next few games. With no LaVine on the floor to take away some of the defense’s attention, teams can focus primarily on the 32-year-old. Likewise, a 10-day hiatus from basketball activities has got to come with some rust, but I will say it’s encouraging to know the worst symptom DeRozan faced was painful boredom.
DeRozan: “I felt completely fine. The only symptom I had was boredom.”
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 18, 2021
• You got to love a good buzzer-beater.
SGA IS COLD BLOODED!
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) December 19, 2021
• Please just hire someone smart.
If Not Derek King, The Next Blackhawks Head Coach Could Come From Overseashttps://t.co/LHpEVn6ieG
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) December 19, 2021