Enhanced Box Score: Bulls 119, Rockets 111 – March 11, 2023
Zach LaVine came out for blood. The rest of his team? Not so much.
The Houston Rockets started the night in an eerily similar fashion to how they did on Dec. 26 (when they embarrassingly beat the Bulls 133-118). Not only were they drilling long-range buckets, but their youthful energy and athleticism were practically running the Bulls off the court. Houston worked themselves up to a 32-22 advantage in the first quarter, while Chicago watched everyone but Zach LaVine shoot a dismal 3-11 from the field to start the night.
LaVine was the only one making the Rockets’ high-energy play, and he refused to take his foot off the gas until his teammates finally ramped up their intensity. He went on to drop 20 of his 36 points in the first half.
Fortunately, slowly but surely Chicago started to match Houston’s passion. They were able to string together a 10-2 run in the final 2:40 of the 2nd quarter. Thanks to some big 3s and rebounds by Patrick Beverley, as well as some smart playmaking by DeMar DeRozan, they walked into halftime down just 55-54.
The next 12 minutes were about as frustrating as the first 12. While the Bulls were able to make it a one or two-possession game a couple of times, the Rockets would always counter with an uncharacteristically big shot. It started to feel like it simply wasn’t going to be the Bulls’ night … but then the law of averages finally started to come into play!
The Rockets bucket-making cooled off. As the minutes went by, they finally started to look like the 3rd-worst offense in the NBA. They also started to look like the far more immature group. Whether it be Andre Drummond’s 8 consecutive points, DeRozan’s clutch gene, or Alex Caruso and Patrick Beverley’s hustle, the Bulls’ veterans were able to take complete control of the game and win the quarter 32-16.
The Bulls’ first lead in the game since the 2-0 mark came with 4:17 left, and it was LaVine that scored the go-ahead bucket. He also went on to connect for an electrifying alley-oop with DeMar DeRozan, which served as the exclamation point in what would be a 13-0 run for the Bulls to all but put the game away.
LaVine deserves the biggest round of applause for that much-needed win (and for just how he’s played in recent weeks), but it also wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of Beverley. This was easily his best performance as a Bull, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. His stroke from behind the arc came through clutch, as did his work on the offensive glass to grab 5 OREBs and help the Bulls win the second-chance battle 19-9 (I know, rare!).
As far as games go, I wouldn’t at all label that as some kind of encouraging victory. But, hey, a win is a win. All that matters is that they actually managed to take advantage of a prime opportunity and move into the 10th seed. How long can they stay there? We’ll see. But getting back there is at least something.
Check out the full box score here.