How many times is too many times to gush over Ayo Dosunmu?
• Just when I think Ayo Dosunmu has reached the peak of his rookie ceiling – which is an unexpected immediate rotation player who limits mistakes and defends his butt off – he goes and has a game like last night. In the wake of two-straight blowouts, with Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Javonte Green, Derrick Jones Jr., Tyler Cook, and Patrick Williams all on the injury report, expectations weren’t high for this Bulls team in Boston. They were also playing their fourth game in five days with a defense that continues to trend in the wrong direction. So how the heck could this team keep up with one of the best wing duos in the league in a hostile road environment? Ayo Dosunmu, that’s how.
• The rookie dropped a career-high 21 points with a career-high 10 assists for his first double-double in the big leagues. He shot a ridiculous 9-10 from the field with a perfect 3-3 performance from downtown. Not only was it a box score that played arguably the biggest role in putting this team in a position to try to win, but it was a box score that was unlike any other in NBA history. According to the Chicago Bulls, Dosunmu is now the first rookie ever to record 20 points, 10 assists, and a 90 percent clip in a single game. Is that kind of an oddly specific stat? Sure, but I think it does perfectly reflect what Dosunmu has brought to the floor this season. He has been an efficient swiss-army knife who has filled whatever role head coach Billy Donovan has needed. Absent one of their top scorers and best defenders, Dosunmu may not have healed all wounds, but he was the Band-Aid that stopped a lot of the Bulls’ bleeding.
• Trae Young, Bradley Beal, and now Jayson Tatum. Dosunmu has been tasked with guarding some of the best offensive players in the league, and he’s stepped up to the plate every time. According to matchup data tracked by NBA Stats, Dosunmu has spent more time guarding Jayson Tatum this season (9:24 in two games) than any other player in the league. Over those minutes, Dosunmu has held Tatum to just 10 points on a 30 percent clip with 3 turnovers. I’ve been remarkably impressed with his footwork and ability to contest shots without fouling. On several possessions last night, Dosunmu practically mimicked Tatum’s movements, never losing a step on the elite offensive player.
Making history as a rook @AyoDos_11
21 points | 10 ast | 9-10 FG | 3-3 from three pic.twitter.com/FwovG8mrBA
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) January 16, 2022
• Donovan is absolutely right.
Billy Donovan: “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but I liked the way we played maybe better than some games we won to be quite honest.”
— Rob Schaefer (@rob_schaef) January 16, 2022
• Despite the final score, it’s hard to deny that last night was one of the better team efforts we saw from the Bulls this season. After two consecutive duds where effort was questioned and execution was worrisome, Chicago gave everyone a look at exactly what gave the franchise its East lead in the first place. They had a balanced two-way performance, shooting an efficient 50.6 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from downtown. The ball movement was crisp on one end (31 assists), and the hustle was endless on the other (won turnover battle 6-11). While they still struggled to command the paint and grab some key rebounds (please, AK, find a power forward), they played physically and made the Celtics work for every ounce of that victory. Add Zach LaVine into the equation or even Lonzo Ball, and it’s hard not to think the Bulls have enough to win that game.
• Seriously, the Bulls kept it that close while having to play a lineup like this.
Troy Brown Jr.
This is an actual lineup the Bulls have to play right now lol
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 16, 2022
• I feel like Nikola Vucevic has already been criticized for his missed game-winner last night, but the team wouldn’t have even been in a position to hit that shot if it weren’t for his leadership. He played at an All-Star level last night with a team-high 27 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. Vucevic shot 12-20 from the field and finished with just one turnover. LaVine and DeRozan steal the spotlight on a nightly basis, but the Bulls simply aren’t who they are this season without Vucevic. He has been such an important playmaker, and he deserves a round of applause for recognizing what the Bulls needed out of him last night.
• Also, I can’t help but respect his brutal honesty after the game. While the Bulls may not have done it purposefully, Vucevic recognized that this team took their foot off the gas during that win streak. That isn’t surprising for a team that hasn’t been to the mountain top before, but let’s hope Vucevic can continue to be part of putting this team back on a familiar track.
“When you win nine in a row it’s human nature to relax a little bit when things are going well,” Vucevic told Bulls dot com. “And then you get hit, it’s hard to respond and maybe it’s a good time for that to happen. Now we know we still have a lot of work to do to get to be where we want to be as one of the best teams in this league.”
• The squad chasing the Bulls just got some bad news.
Kevin Durant Could Reportedly be Out 4-to-6 Weeks with a Knee Injuryhttps://t.co/eWnPqmBaNp
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 16, 2022
• Malcolm Hill stepped into the Bulls rotation and gave them HUGE minutes. Not only did he hit a big-time 3 in the 4th quarter, but he took a charge and played great defense to force a Celtics travel. Overall, it was the exact kind of performance that will grab the attention of front offices around the league.
Malcolm Hill's first Bulls bucket! 🏀 pic.twitter.com/kAv40QycdF
— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) January 16, 2022
• More encouraging footage of Patrick Williams putting up shots.
Here’s a look at how the Bulls are simulating light shooting sessions for Patrick Williams as he recovers from left wrist surgery. pic.twitter.com/eIJ96IVS9q
— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) January 15, 2022
• Who do you want to see as the next Bears head coach?
The Daboll Show, Boger’s Bunch, Bengals Wait Ends, Harbaugh Watch Begins, and Other Bears Bulletshttps://t.co/ZwFxs1ZiHK
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 16, 2022