Enhanced Box Score: Bulls 117, Nuggets 96 – March 8, 2022
After the Chicago Bulls got out to an early 4-3 lead thanks to back-to-back aggressive buckets by Zach LaVine, Denver played like the top team in the West. They broke out into an 11-0 run and found themselves up by double digits. For a minute it looked like this might turn into a short night for Nikola Jokic and his supporting cast, especially with everyone but LaVine dragging their feet.
But then Patrick Williams checked in.
The Bulls’ youngster carried his strong play from Sunday afternoon’s matchup with the Pacers into this one. He scored 4 points in a little over a minute to help break up the Nuggets’ momentum. He went on to finish with 9 points in his first 12 minutes of action on a 4-5 shooting display from the field. Arguably his most encouraging bucket came when he put a shoulder into guard Reggie Jackson, backed him down, and got the and-one call. It’s opportunities like those that the Bulls want to see Wiliams recognize and repeatedly attack.
As Williams got going, so did the Bulls’ other stars. DeMar DeRozan was helping keep the offense in motion while Vucevic went on to score 13 first-half points. With 13 assists on their first 21 field goals, the Bulls were mimicking the kind of pass-happy basketball the Denver Nuggets play so well. And they were just getting started.
The 3rd quarter was one of the best 12 minutes we’ve seen the Bulls play in weeks. They outscored Denver 36-24 to take an 11-point lead into the final frame. Alex Caruso helped ignite this electric start to the second half by scoring 6 points in the first 4 minutes of the 3rd quarter. It was his steal and fastbreak layup that gave Chicago a 64-62 lead that they would never relinquish.
Before we knew it, the Bulls were on a 15-6 run and firing on all cylinders. DeMar DeRozan was dropping more dimes, Nikola Vucevic was hitting his jumpers, the defense was forcing key stops (Denver shot just 42.0 percent), and Zach LaVine was providing highlight after highlight.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen his dunk yet, don’t wait any longer:
With nearly four minutes to go in the game, Denver officially waved the white flag and sent in the benchwarmers. Think about that! The Bulls made a Finals favorite and the top team in the West throw in the towel.
On one hand, this kind of makes me angry. Where the heck has this been the past couple of weeks? And, when they do happen play this well, why must it always come against good competition? Play inspired basketball like this all the time, and you’re easily a playoff team!
On the other hand, I’m just going to enjoy this rare W. That was the most fun I’ve had watching this team in at least a month. Do I think it changes anything? No. But it is at least worth noting that the Wizards lost to the Hawks a few hours ago, so the Bulls did move within 1.0 game of the 10 seed. Next up for them is the West’s worst team (Houston), while the Wizards will have to deal with a pesky Hawks team again. We’ll see if they can gain more ground.
See ya tomorrow!
Check out the full box score here.