The Chicago Bulls were 4,130 miles away from Chicago … but they couldn’t have looked more at home.
I was glad to see the Bulls’ woes against the NBA’s tanking teams didn’t make it on the flight overseas. Instead of letting the Detroit Pistons hang around in a concerning fashion, Chicago was able to set a victorious tone in the opening frame. And Nikola Vucevic was a big reason for that.
The big man followed up his 43-point showing against Golden State by starting the night 4-5 from the field with 8 points. He needed just 13 minutes to record his 26th double-double of the season, ultimately setting himself up to finish the game with 16 points, 15 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Once Vucevic had the Pistons’ defense focused on the inside, the rest of the team was able to take complete advantage. Four starters found themselves in double figures by the time halftime rolled around, including an aggressive Patrick Williams.
By the end of the night, the number of players to record 10+ points ballooned to seven. Chicago had shot 54.3 percent from the field and held the Pistons to just 40.2 percent shooting. It was a mix of this consistent ball pressure on the defensive end (11 steals!) and LaVine’s second-half shot-making (30pts!) that kept the Pistons from even thinking about a true comeback effort.
Indeed, for once, this team played with the kind of killer instinct they should have against this level of competition. All we can do now is hope it serves as a lesson they can take back to the states. Have a safe flight home, Bulls!
Check out the full box score here.