Enhanced Box Score: Bulls 131, Nets 87 – February 28, 2022

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Enhanced Box Score: Bulls 131, Nets 87 – February 28, 2022

Chicago Bulls

Patrick Beverley for MVP!?

Not only did the Chicago Bulls look well-rested after a much-needed All-Star break, but there was a genuine sense of urgency to begin the game. They looked like a team that knew how important these final 23 games were, and Zach LaVine looked like a player that took Patrick Beverley’s word to heart.

Indeed, the Bulls’ newest point guard called out LaVine in their first practice together, telling him that the team needs him to focus solely on being an elite scorer. Fast forward through the first two-quarters of tonight’s game, and LaVine had 18 points to his name on 7-10 shooting from the field.

The team as a whole comfortably shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half, as the new-look starting lineup with Patrick Beverley and Alex Caruso gave the Bulls the exact kind of burst we hoped to see. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Patrick Williams being moved to the bench (I’ll need a few games to fully decide what I think), there is no question that this lineup change brought out a sense of legitimate urgency.

Chicago’s “Big 3” was scoring easily, but it was their defensive activity that really created the second-largest deficit in the NBA this season (the Nets were down by 50 at one point). Brooklyn shot just 37.0 percent on the night as they went on to score just 87 points (the fewest points scored by a Bull this season). To be sure, there were *a lot* of bricks shot by this Nets team, but the Bulls also played on a string all night long.

We’ve seen what this group can do when they have two high-level perimeter defenders in the starting lineup. While Alex Caruso and Patrick Beverley will never live up to the Caruso-Ball hype, we did see flashes of the old Bulls tonight. They were flying around to force turnovers and pushing the pace in transition. Meanwhile, LaVine and DeRozan weren’t struggling to find where they could co-exist on the offensive end. Perhaps at least some of that, however, was thanks to the offense not needing to dominate.

Considering the Bulls played this same Nets team – minus Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson – six games ago and lost by double-digits, I’d consider this an encouraging victory. At the same time, I’m not going to allow myself to get my hopes up just yet. Not for THIS Bulls team.

We’re just talking about one game out of the 22 remaining. The Bulls still have a lot to prove if they even want to secure a Play-In Tournament game. But, hey, I guess this is a good start.

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.