Three Decembers ago, the Chicago Bulls made some hideous history. The head coach that shall not be named led his crew to a 133-77 loss to the Boston Celtics. The 56-point margin made for the worst loss in franchise history. I know, Tuesdays are already bleak enough, so I’ll go sit in the corner for shoving that nugget back into your brain.
While it may still have taken a couple of seasons before real change hit the Advocate Center offices, this moment seemed to define the end of the previous era. Fast forward to last night, and I sure wouldn’t mind if the 130-118 victory over the Atlanta Hawks is what helps define the newest era.
• Yes, the Hawks entered last night’s game even more depleted than the Bulls, but they still had All-Star guard Trae Young on the floor to go along with the NBA’s 3rd-leading rebounder, Clint Capela. The combination was enough to make the Bulls starters work right out of the gate … and that work didn’t stop even when Atlanta had to turn to a slew of 10-day contract players and two-way talent. The Bulls broke the game open in the second quarter behind the flip-flop bucket-getting of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Eventually, they added in the much more confident and comfortable Nikola Vucevic, and the team went on to earn their 4th-straight win and a number of historic achievements.
• DeRozan and LaVine combined for 65 points and 19 assists. The duo that sits 6th and 7th on the NBA scoring charts, respectively, has provided a relentless one-two punch this season that has already made for one of the best offensive duos this organization has ever seen. In fact, according to NBA History, DeRozan and LaVine became only the second pair of Bulls teammates to drop 30+ points and 9+ assists in the same game. I don’t even need to tell you who the other pair was, but I will say it happened in March of 1991.
DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are the second pair of @chicagobulls teammates with 30+ points and 9+ assists in the same game.
The first was Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on March 31, 1991. pic.twitter.com/4pPngDUunP
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) December 28, 2021
• Toss Vucevic into the mix, and the Bulls apparently reached a combined stat line that hasn’t been seen in a regulation game since 1992, according to Stats Perform.
DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic combined for the @chicagobulls tonight:
The last NBA trio to reach all of those numbers in a non-OT game was the Hawks' Mookie Blaylock, Dominique Wilkins and Kevin Willis on December 5, 1992.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) December 28, 2021
• Vucevic’s box score, specifically, is one that has failed to appear in any NBA history book. The big man dropped 24 points with 17 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks, and 4 made 3’s.
Nikola Vucevic tonight:
No player in NBA history has ever had (or exceeded) that stat line. pic.twitter.com/N8DorxQPst
— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 28, 2021
• The All-Star was asked about that bonkers stat line after the game, and while I would have jumped onto the desk, pounded my chest, and screamed something like “I’M A BIGGER BIG MAN THAN YOU’LL EVER BE, HUZZAY,” Vucevic took the more humble approach:
“It’s nice to hear, but when it comes to those stats, I feel you can make up a stat with anything nowadays,” Vucevic told reporters.” I feel like stats should generally be 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, so it has a certain kind of consistency. I would say it’s hard to find the same exact stat as I had: 24 is random, 17 is random. So it’s nice, obviously, I’m glad I played well and I was able to have a good all-around game to help us win a game. But, as far as that, it’s nice, but I don’t necessarily care to be the only player to ever do it.
• I get where Vucevic is coming from. As someone who spends too much time scouring the internet, I see tons of bizarre stats that don’t feel like they hold any weight. Is it shocking no one has had that EXACT stat line that we saw from Vucevic? Not particularly, but it is pretty cool that no one has exceeded it, and I still believe it goes to show how uncommon of a player Vucevic has turned out to be. Not many big men in NBA history have been this versatile. He has the physically imposing presence of a seven-footer around the rim, but he also provides the quick-trigger passing and light-tough jump-shooting of a backcourt player. Last night’s historic box score only further demonstrates that.
• The craziest thing about this Chicago Bulls team is the fact we have yet to see them at full strength for an extended stretch. With practically every player ending up in protocols this season, as well as less-severe injuries popping up to guys like Alex Caruso and Derrick Jones Jr., the Bulls are only in a position to get better. Considering they still sit 2nd in the Eastern Conference and 11 games over .500, their best mark since 2015, that’s pretty wild to think about.
The Bulls are about to move to 11 games over .500 for 1st time since finishing 50-32 in on April 15, 2015, Tom Thibodeau's final season as coach.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) December 28, 2021
• Everyone who let Ayo Dosunmu fall into the second round should be fined by the NBA.
🗣 AYO DOSUNMU WAS THE STEAL OF THE DRAFT
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 28, 2021
• Lovely. Great. Awesome. Cool. Let’s hope the Bulls mix of vaccine and natural immunity comes through big over the next couple of weeks.
Atlanta's Bogdan Bogdanovic, Gorgui Dieng and Malik Ellison have entered Covid protocols, team says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 28, 2021
• Nice (yes, I re-shared this just to say it).
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) December 27, 2021
• Glad to hear Stacey King is on the up-and-up. His battle with the virus was no joke.
— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) December 28, 2021
• We have to wait longer for some Blackhawks hockey.
No Games Until the New Year, Coming Out of the Break, Lawsuit Update, and Other Blackhawks Bulletshttps://t.co/YfSEf5hxIv
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) December 28, 2021