DeRozan Leads the Way (Without Scoring!), Vooch Cleans the Glass, This Bench Rocks, and Other Bulls Bullets

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DeRozan Leads the Way (Without Scoring!), Vooch Cleans the Glass, This Bench Rocks, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

Achievement Unlocked: Bounceback Bulls!

  • Less than 24 hours after hitting themselves in the shin with a Razor scooter, the Chicago Bulls landed the trick. The Toronto Raptors brought their same level of two-way intensity to the United Center floor, but the Bulls looked far more equipped to handle the pressure. A big reason for that was certainly the addition of Zach LaVine – who dropped a season-high 30 points – but equally as important was the win-at-all-cost mentality of DeRozan.
  • While DeRozan may have only dropped 7 points against the Raptors, he was arguably the catalyst for the team’s dominant 111-97 victory. The team continued to trap him on almost every possession, but rather than stumble into 5 TOVs, he added 7 dimes to the box score. His quick decision-making was infectious, as the Bulls not only prioritized getting ahead of the Raptors’ stiff defense in transition but repeatedly capitalized on opportunities in the halfcourt. The Bulls attacked closeouts and sank catch-and-shoot shots with ease, finishing the night with a 52.5 percent clip from the field.

“For him tonight, it was all about his greatness as a player, in my opinion, because it was a total give himself up for the benefit of the team,” Donovan said after the game. “We had 21 TOVs and we scored 111 points, and he didn’t reach double figures. And that’s what I talked about a little bit earlier before the game, we’ve got to have other ways to score.” 

  • Now, the Bulls still ran into some turnover trouble, which isn’t uncommon against this Raptors team that forces the 2nd-most per game. But instead of allowing Toronto to continually turn those cough-ups into points, the Bulls did a much better job getting back down the floor to set their defense. At the end of the night, while the Bulls had seven more turnovers than the Raptors, Nick Nurse’s team only scored two more points off mistakes.
  • The other killer on Sunday night was the rebounding column, which the Bulls lost 52-46 and 23-15 on the offensive glass. A more focused and communal effort led to the Bulls dominating the defensive glass by a margin of 40-26. They also happened to accumulate four more offensive rebounds this time around. Patrick Williams deserves a tip of the cap for his efforts in that department, as he led the team with three much-needed OREBs.
  • Nikola Vucevic ate up 13 rebounds last night, which basically tied his season average. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Rebounding isn’t sexy, but few players do it better than Vucevic. The Bulls’ big man currently sits second in rebounds per game behind only Rudy Gobert. Even more fun, he’s actually averaging his most OREBs (3.1) since his 2014-15 season! He’s now scored a double-double in seven of the team’s 12 games.
  • Speaking of Vucevic, we’re just going to pretend like this never happened …
  • Last year, I would have to pour myself a little extra whiskey every time Billy Donovan went to his bench. This year … I still pour that extra whiskey but for far different reasons! The Bulls bench has only given us reasons to celebrate in recent weeks, and last night was no exception. After starting off slow with an 8-2 deficit, head coach Billy Donovan went to his reserves early. The presence of both Javonte Green and Goran Dragic completely turned the game around. The two combined for 15 of the Bulls’ first 30 points, propelling the team toward the far more uptempo style they needed to play.
  • I can’t even begin to describe how valuable it is to have a bench that is capable of doing just that. In a lot of ways, this is what separates the good from the great teams. Having different lineups to deploy and more players to trust when injuries arise is huge. I think about a player like Derrick Jones Jr. and how well he’s played in the absence of Andre Drummond. Being able to turn to his sheer athleticism off the bench can be a fantastic change of pace, especially in certain small-ball lineups. He did an awesome job last night as an undersized roll man, and I really hope the Bulls continue to sneak him into the picture even when Drummond is back.
  • Another guy who might deserve more playing time soon …
  • Let’s get weird!
  • I should have picked up Fields when I had the chance.

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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.