I died and came back to life around 18 times during last night’s game.
We may have back-to-back buzzer-beaters to look back on this season, but I’m not even sure those two wins top what we saw last night. Against a rejuvenated Clippers team that stormed back from a 25-point deficit to beat the Utah Jazz earlier this week, the Chicago Bulls broke the heart of the heartbreaker. DeMar DeRozan and Co. erased an 11-point margin with under 5 minutes to go behind arguably the team’s most clutch two-way play all season long. It was a thing of chaotic beauty.
• While DeRozan stole the show with a combined 27 points in the 4th quarter and overtime, Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, and Patrick Williams all added key buckets down the stretch. In the meantime, Alex Caruso was filling every gap he could. The Bulls’ offense shot 60 percent in the final frame and overtime, including a 50 percent performance from downtown. As for the Clippers, all their surprisingly hot offense could muster was a 39 percent effort from the field.
• I got to be honest, I was comfortable declaring the night donezo midway through the 3rd quarter. I didn’t particularly mind the way the Bulls were playing, but it felt like every punch the Bulls landed was countered with a knockout blow. Heck, Reggie Jackson – a 32.0 percent 3-point shooter – went on to sink six of his nine attempts from downtown. Marcus Morris also looked like he chugged some of Kawhi Leonard’s Secret Stuff before the game, scoring 20 points and knocking down six of his nine midrange shots. I thought it just wasn’t the Bulls’ night, but then I remembered what all those PBS Kids shows taught me back in the day: You never give up!
• All things considered, the Chicago Bulls continue to be one of the best clutch teams in the NBA. They hold the league’s 2nd-highest Net Rating in clutch situations behind only the Phoenix Suns, and they hold the 3rd-most wins, per NBA Stats. Again, a lot of that is because they have the NBA’s leading 4th-quarter bucket-getter in DeMar DeRozan, but it’s also thanks to a promising mindset to play until the final buzzer. And Patrick Williams was a perfect demonstration of that last night.
• Williams had one of his best games of the season (and maybe of his career). The second-year forward scored 10 points with 12 rebounds in a two-way effort that had a real impact on the Bulls’ success. We talked about how something may have clicked for Williams against the Washington Wizards earlier this week, and I now only believe that more.
“The guys just challenged me. DeMar challenged me. Tristan challenged me. AC. From the top all the way down,” Williams told reporters after the game. “Coach Billy challenged me at halftime to be more aggressive. When I get the ball, because they were trapping DeMar and trapping Zach, just be aggressive, put the ball on the floor, getting downhill, and making the right play from there. So they showed trust in me, so I kind of just had to trust myself in those situations.”
• Whatever words were said to Williams this week must keep being said. His decision-making on both sides of the ball last night was significantly improved, and we especially saw this on both of his crucial 3-pointers. For a team that already shoots the fewest attempts from downtown each game, they need Williams to be confident enough to let it fly. After all, the opportunities are bound to only increase as the playoffs near and opponents attempt to trap Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan at an increasing rate.
Quick Patrick Williams thread.
First things first, those were two HUGE 3’s in 4th and OT. Zero hesitation despite a decent close out on the first.
As a team that lacks shooting, the Bulls need Williams to take these. May have been on low volume, but he shot 40% last year! pic.twitter.com/zyxquIIq98
— Elias Schuster (@Schuster_Elias) April 1, 2022
• Now, the 3-point shooting we saw glimpses of last season, but I’m not sure we’ve ever seen him attack the basket in the way he did against Isaiah Hartenstein. The man plowed right through the seven-footer with baffling ease, reminding all of us how physically gifted the Bulls’ 2020 No. 4 pick already is in his second year. Then, his awareness to cut hard to the basket and help the Bulls take advantage of the Clippers’ trap was spot on. Both were additional examples of decisive decision-making that the entire team benefited from.
It can be a simple game for Williams right now.
The Bulls need to let him know how important these rebounds can be. The scoring is oftentimes gravy, what they really need is a continued active presence on the glass.
Keep hunting those boards, Pat. pic.twitter.com/XDdIvrxczB
— Elias Schuster (@Schuster_Elias) April 1, 2022
• We all know how stout Williams’ defense can be thanks to his rookie campaign, and he recorded two huge blocks and a steal on the Clippers. But what we’ve also been waiting to see is a more active presence on the glass, and he surely checked that box last night. Almost every time the ball was headed off the rim, Williams was somewhere in sight. He kept his eyes locked on the basketball, and it resulted in a couple of crucial late-game boards. His ability to impact this column of the box score is essential for a team that averages the 3rd-fewest rebounds per game, but it’s also a good way to convince head coach Billy Donovan to keep him on the floor.
• Williams played all but 8 seconds of the 4th quarter and all but 5 seconds of OT. He’s only going to see more of this if he continues to leave this kind of mark on both ends, and it sure sounds like he wants more opportunities:
Those types of games, everybody wants to be in. Everybody wants to make an impact in those types of games. Those are the types of games we work for. Those are the games all your hard work kind of pays off. The blowouts are cool, but the down to the wire gritty games, those are the games that mean the most.
• Guys like Zach LaVine and Thaddeus Young repeatedly said last season that Williams didn’t understand how abnormally talented and athletic he can be. Young had easily the best quote when he stated: “Some of the sh*t he does, he thinks he’s just doing it, and we’re like ‘this sh*t is amazing!'” I hope that these past couple of games can show the 20-year-old how special his toolbox can be and how much he can offer his team to finish out the season.
• DeMar DeRozan has wasted no time etching his name in the Bulls history books. What a freakin’ stud muffin.
ICYMI: DeMar DeRozan is having one of the best individual seasons in Bulls franchise history. But . .
“The win is more meaningful. That’s just my mentality.”
Which happens to sound like the best individual in franchise history.
— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) April 1, 2022
• The vibes around this team are trending back in the right direction.
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) April 1, 2022
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) April 1, 2022
• “So you’re telling me there is a chance?” – Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber – Me
Kawhi Leonard reppin’ the Good Guys. pic.twitter.com/gWe0dR51MH
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) April 1, 2022
• Ok, if Giannis is hitting this shot, we might have to call the season. Dear lord.
GIANNIS 3 TO TIE THE GAME.
WHAT A SHOT. pic.twitter.com/G2wU0n230N
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 1, 2022
• Zach-DeMar bromance >>>> Fields-Mooney bromance
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) April 1, 2022
• Cool. Cool. Cool.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) April 1, 2022