On the second night of a back-to-back, the Bulls secure a victory over the Charlotte Hornets 106-88. Despite a poor shooting performance from the Bulls two best players, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, the rest of the team picked up the slack and took care of business.
Here are six takeaways from Wednesday night’s game:
1. Zach LaVine back-to-back
Zach LaVine played his first back-to-back of the season. He came back to earth after going nuclear in the fourth quarter Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets, scoring only 10 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
“I felt good,” LaVine said. “I mean my legs were tired, a couple of my shots were short, but it was one of them games. I was one we had to go down and get. It was an ugly game, a dirty game. We ended up winning by 20 points when our two best players shot the ball terrible.”
What will it take to manage over the course of the season?
“Same thing we’ve been doing,” LaVine said. “Playing well to this point, my knee has been feeling well. Nothing new. Just stay off it when you have off days. Have some ice. Then activate and be ready to play when it’s game day.”
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2. DeMar DeRozan cold streak
After going scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting in the fourth quarter against the Nets on Tuesday, DeMar DeRozan was again uncharacteristically cold. He was 0-for-4 in the first quarter on Wednesday against the Hornets.
DeRozan finished with 9 points and was getting all the shots he wanted, but something was off for him.
I posed the question this offseason: what happens is DeRozan is only 90 or 95 percent as good as he was last year. I think this might be what that looks like.
It was masked by an incredible bench scoring display, but something to monitor as games get more competitive.
3. Ayo Dosunmu below the rim
Not a great game for Ayo Dosunmu who struggled to get clean looks all night. He finished with 8 points on 3-for-10 shooting, but was 0-for-7 until he pulled it together with a few floaters in the fourth quarter. Not his best showing.
Dosunmu is not an above-the-rim athlete, but credit to him for continuing to attack the paint. He’ll need to protect his shots with better body positioning.
4. Are you kidding me, Goran Dragic
Goran Dragic continues to play out of his mind. Finishing with 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting, Dragic led the bench to a 47 point day and carried the Bulls while the stars struggled to play to their standard.
Dragic is up to some ageless sorcery, and I’m all for it.
5. Patrick Williams has arrived
“I just think that you just feel him out there physically,” Billy Donovan said.
“When you see him athletically, he’s getting his talent into the game. And he’s been assertive and he’s been aggressive. And those decisions, I think he’s realized he’s had to make and needed to do, but not only to help himself, but to help our team.”
I just wrote in more detail about how the Bulls have unlocked him as a screener in pick-and-roll, so I won’t get too deep into it, but Williams has found a way, within the flow of the offense, to make an impact. That is giving him a boost that’s bleeding into the rest of his game.
6. Derrick Jones Jr. and Javonte Green go off
Javonte Green led the Chicago Bulls in scoring on a night they won by 18. That’s a sentence I never thought I would write, but I’m damn glad I was able to. He scored 17 on a perfect 7-for-7 night. Derrick Jones Jr. added ten more. On a night where the four bench players nearly matched the starters total points, they provided a huge boost that took helped the Bulls win.
They were both featured, alongside Williams, in small lineups throughout the game — an interesting curveball from Billy Donovan with Andre Drummond on the sideline.