For the second straight game, the Chicago Bulls looked like a real NBA basketball team.
After providing easily their best effort of the season in a win over the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bulls came out and looked to have a newfound confidence against the New Orleans Pelicans. They played especially energized on the offensive end, as they picked up right where they left off two nights ago with unselfish passing and off-ball movement.
The Bulls assisted on 10 of their 13 made field goal in the first quarter. DeMar DeRozan, who returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s win, also looked rejuvenated by starting the night 4-5 with 9 points. I had some concerns about how his ISO ways may impact the successful offense we saw against Milwaukee, but he did a great job staying out of his teammate’s way and channeling his playmaking ability. DeRozan ended the night with a team-high 10 assists to go along with his 24 points.
Ayo Dosunmu also played a key role in keeping the Bulls neck-and-neck with the Pelicans all night long. Not only did he remind everyone of how lethal he could be in transition, but he played high-IQ basketball in the halfcourt. He was just as much a part of ensuring this team stuck to its new active identity as anyone on the team.
If any player deserves the game ball, though, it’s Coby White. As the game crept into the fourth quarter, the Pelicans were able to tie things up 98-98 … and then White took over. The Bulls’ point guard drained two straight 3-pointers to kick off a 12-point final frame. He also proceeded to dish three dimes, meaning he either scored or assisted on 20 of the team’s 23 points over the final 6:45 of play.
It was a truly dominant finish for White, who scored a season-high 31 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Pelicans came into the game with the NBA’s second-best defensive rating over the past 10 games, but the Bulls’ picked them apart. They reached 32 assists for the second consecutive game and shot 54.5 percent from the field. They’ve now taken down a Bucks team that came into the night winning eight of their previous nine and a Pelicans team that was 7-3 in their previous ten games in back-to-back games. And it was with Zach LaVine on the bench in street clothes.
All things considered, it’s nearly impossible not to think the two are related. But that’s a conversation for another day. I’m just happy to watch an energized Chicago Bulls team after all the wretched play we’ve seen since Oct. 25. This group finally looks like they’re having fun and playing the brand of basketball that was advertised during the offseason.
They now get three full days off before playing two below-.500 teams in the Hornets and Spurs. Will the win streak continue?
Check out the full box score here.