Back-to-Back Wins, Bulls Bench Does a 180, Dragic Looks Great, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Back-to-Back Wins, Bulls Bench Does a 180, Dragic Looks Great, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

What feels better than winning your first back-to-back of the season!?

Well … probably puppy snuggles or a massage or a towel fresh out of the dryer or hot cocoa by the fire or winning a crane game or successfully landing your first backflip … but I’m sure the back-to-back thing feels pretty darn good, too!

  • The Chicago Bulls were previously 0-4 in their back-to-back games, but they officially improved that mark by defeating both the Nets and Hornets this week. While each victory came with warts, it was still encouraging to see them take care of business against two struggling opponents. Last night’s win, in particular, felt like a real display of growth from one year to the next. The Bulls bench single-handedly took control of that game, allowing the team’s All-Stars to take their foot off the gas and clock no more than 32 minutes of action.
  • Indeed, the combined 22-31 shooting performance from Patrick Williams, Javonte Green, Goran Dragic, and Derrick Jones Jr. more than made up for the “Big 3’s” underwhelming 11-43 showing. Green led the way with 17 points on a perfect 7-7, while Williams led all starters with 16 points. I know it can seem odd to praise this group after how poorly the top dogs on this team played, but this is also a sign of a much more well-rounded Bulls team. The fact of the matter is that we’re dealing with an 82-game season. The All-Star-caliber players are going to have their off-nights (and their nights off), and the difference between good and bad teams is their ability to overcome in those moments. The Bulls did that to the tune of a dominant 106-88 win.
  • The Bulls’ bench has easily become one of the best in the NBA, and this has continued to look like the case with Andre Drummond missing three-straight games. I mean, look at these stats Rob Schaefer provided below (also, I’ll bump my post on the bench’s stellar play from last week):
  • Eventually, I’m going to have to dedicate a whole post to Goran Dragic’s resurgence. The veteran point guard has arguably had the greatest impact on the Bulls’ second unit. As important as the sparkplug energy of Green and the rebounding prowess of Drummond have been, it’s Dragic’s steady hand and 3-point shotmaking that has made this group so darn efficient. He combined for 31 points on 58.8 percent shooting in these back-to-back wins, and he’s now up to an absurd 53.6 percent on the season from behind the arc (which obviously won’t last but still!).
  • The pre-existing chemistry he’s built with guys like Derrick Jones Jr. and Drummond has made a legit difference, as has his natural urge to push the tempo in transition. If we’re being honest, he’s helped provide this second unit with an even more recognizable identity than the starting group. The only hope now is that the 36-year-old can stay healthy for the long haul. I’m sure the Bulls will consider giving him some rest days as the season goes on because he’s already proving how valuable he can be when the playoffs roll around.
  • SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK, GORAN!
  • LaVine, DeRozan, and Vucevic deserve some credit for feeding the hot hand. These three still played a vital role in keeping the offense in motion, dishing a combined 14 assists. LaVine had a particularly strong night as a facilitator, repeatedly kicking it out to the open man after forcing the Hornets’ defense to collapse inside. He had an eye-popping feed to Vucevic that he passed around the back of Miles Plumlee, as well as a quick pass to Patrick Williams for the cutting dunk.
  • Speaking of LaVine, he answered some questions from a bunch of adorable British kids. How could you not want to watch that?
  • So I guess we’re just riding this carousel again. Expect Marko Simonovic to spend a lot of time moving up and down from the G-League.
  • Hey, free basketball!
  • LET’S RIDE!

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Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.