Enhanced Box Score: Bulls 118, Knicks 117 – December 23, 2022

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Enhanced Box Score: Bulls 118, Knicks 117 – December 23, 2022

Chicago Bulls

Make that three straight!

From the opening tip, Zach LaVine looked like the old Zach LaVine. The Chicago Bulls’ max player dropped an aggressive 12 points in the 1st quarter to pace his squad toward an early 29-22 lead. Whether it be knocking down a logo 3-pointer or capitalizing on a couple of transition buckets at the rim, it was easily one of LaVine’s best starts to a game this season.

The Bulls also got some much-needed help from Nikola Vucevic, who started his first half with 10 points on an efficient 3-4 shooting. A couple of those buckets also happened to come while sharing the floor with Andre Drummond, which was the first time we’ve seen the Bulls deploy that two-big lineup this season. Would I recommend it’s something they continue to do? Absolutely not. But against a Knicks team that has crushed them on the boards twice this season, it was at least worth a shot early in this third meeting.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, their strong start was met with one of RJ Barrett’s best quarters of the season. The youngster scored an absurd 19 points in the second frame to finish with 26 points in the first half. And his dominance didn’t stop there.

Barrett went on to finish the game with 44 points on 14-20 shooting from the field. He almost single-handedly ended the Bulls’ win streak with a huge running mid-range pull-up off one leg with 29.1 seconds left.

Fortunately for the Bulls, however, LaVine also stayed locked in. He quickly fought his way to the rim for a layup that brought the team within one. The team proceeded to foul Jalen Brunson after the Knicks’ inbound only for him to miss both shots. In a position to win the game, the Bulls then handed the ball to their most clutch player. And he did what he does best.

I got to admit, I’m pretty hyped. This is now two-straight clutch victories for a Bulls team that has otherwise looked broken in close battles. I originally thought the reported explosion in the Bulls’ locker room during that Minnesota loss would only spell more trouble, but we may have a legitimate reason to believe it’s helped this team turn a corner.

Of course, they’ll have to continue to execute and take down teams like the Rockets and Pistons over the next week. But this is what you want to see from a team desperate to get back into the competitive mix.

Check out the full box score here.

Author: Elias Schuster

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