A Comeback I'll Never Forget, Some Crazy Stats, Billy D's Adjustment, and Other Bulls Bullets

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A Comeback I’ll Never Forget, Some Crazy Stats, Billy D’s Adjustment, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

I guess now we know how the Pacers, Cavaliers, Clippers, and Wizards feel.

Practically all season long, the Bulls have been the hare. Whenever they found themselves with a hefty lead, they would park themselves under a nice shady tree and chow down on a juicy carrot (or do whatever hares do to relax). Last night, however, it was their turn to be the tortoise.

The Bulls turned a 23-point deficit into a 21-point victory. In other words, they didn’t just surpass the hare for victory, they waited for him to pass the finish line and proceeded to make out with the hare’s girlfriend and receive an “I’m proud of you, son” from the hare’s father.

What a win.

  • The 23-point comeback marked the Bulls’ largest of the season. Even more impressive, it came against the Western Conference’s second-best team on a night where the stakes were pretty darn high. Both the Raptors and Hawks picked up victories to potentially bump their lead over the Bulls to 2.0 games with four contests to go. However, since the Bulls were able to down Ja Morant and Co., they maintain just a 1.0-game deficit heading into a big week. There is now a real chance they can sneak into *at least* the No. 9 seed. I’ll have a post coming soon on what’s on the line this week, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.
  • The second-half stats make me chuckle. The Bulls shot 61.2 percent from the field and assisted on 19 of their 30-made field goals. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies shot just 37.8 percent and Jaren Jackson Jr. was the ONLY played to reach double figures. Morant was held to just 5 points. Even more impressive, the Bulls’ bench combined for 27 points over the final two frames while the Grizzlies’ bench scored just 3 points. Talk about domination.
  • Want some more absurd stats? My pleasure! The Bulls outscored Memphis in the paint 70-36 and 31-0 on points off turnovers. To put this further into perspective, the Grizzlies comfortably average the NBA’s most points in the paint per game with 58.3. They also allow their opponents to average the 7th-fewest points off turnovers each night.
  • Look, I know it sounds kind of silly since this team is 38-40 and fighting for nothing more than a Play-In spot, but that’s a comeback I’m never going to forget. Between the lockdown defense, the highlight-worthy moments in transition, Zach LaVine hitting savage stepbacks, and the crowd going absolutely ballistic, that’s the kind of regular season win that pitches a tent in your brain.
  • Ok, so how much of this is about the Bulls being awesome versus the Grizzlies imploding? I’m not going to deny that Memphis fumbled in the red zone. They should have taken way better care of the basketball and truly embarrassed themselves with that second-half offensive performance. Having said that, Chicago still deserves a tremendous amount of credit for ramping up the pressure on this team and not hanging their head. You don’t just happen to win a 3rd quarter 40-16. You have to play excellent two-way basketball, and that’s exactly what the Bulls did.
  • Also, you don’t just happen to tie a franchise record for the fewest turnovers. The Bulls did everything they could to put themselves in a position to climb back into the game.

  • I also have to shoutout head coach Billy Donovan for his second-half adjustment to the rotation. Instead of opting for Andre Drummond against a team with such talented guards, he called about Derrick Jones Jr. to finish out the game. The Bulls went on a 15-0 run after he checked in, and Donovan elaborated on this wise decision after the game:

β€œI thought there was an opportunity to switch a little bit,” Donovan said. “I thought we got hurt in some pick-and-rolls coming downhill. Derrick gives us the flexibility to do that. And I give him credit because thy brought Jackson back in the first and we stuck with Derrick. He did a really good job battling and fighting … but it was more for us to be able to switch and keep the ball in front of us.”

  • There is no question Jones Jr.’s versatility played a significant role in the Bulls turning things around. From the moment he checked in, we saw a much more active and engaged defense. The team was scrambling to force turnovers and got out into transition with ease. The Grizzlies just couldn’t match their energy level.
  • We also saw some star sh*t from Zach LaVine. While he and DeRozan combined for an epic 67 points, it was LaVine’s 24 points in the second half that really shined. After the Grizzlies were able to cut things to 104-101 with roughly 6:30 to go, LaVine went on to rattle off 12 points, seven of which came consecutively to push the Bulls’ lead back up to double digits.

  • LaVine’s late-game decision-making has been pretty fantastic since the All-Star break. We all know DeRozan previously carried the role of closer on this team, and there is no question he still plays an important role. But it sure feels like LaVine has started to contribute in that department in a way he never has before. The fact he was able to practically single-handedly cancel out the Grizzlies’ 11-0 run is the kind of thing a max player is supposed to do.
  • Shameless Plug Time: If golf is your thing, we’re currently partnering with RunYourPool for an awesome Masters contest. All you have to do is pick six golfers and the participant with the lowest score (it’s golf so remember that’s a good thing) will win an all-expenses-paid trip to golf with Paige Spiranac. Other prizes like some $100 Fanatics gift cards are also up for grabs. Anyway, it’s totally free to participate, so sign up here!

  • More shameless plugs! Our BN live event is just a few days away! You can still grab some tickets and join us for a fun Chicago sports party.

  • As I’ve said before, it’s truly great to see someone as high-profile as Drummond speak about the importance of mental health. He further addressed that after last night’s game, and I strongly recommend you give NBC Sports Chicago’s latest article on that a read:

  • Myles Murphy, anyone?

  • Who will compete?

Author: Elias Schuster

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