The Bulls were playing this one a little too comfortably, up only five points heading into the fourth quarter.

But then it happened.

Andre Drummond and the second unit dominated.

Remember that bench mob that carried the Bulls during their first stretch of the season? Led by Goran Dragic and Drummond, the Bulls played with pace, generated turnovers and got out in transition. That group disappeared for a while, but they came back in a big way en route to the Bulls 128-104 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Drummond finished with 21 points (9-of-9 shooting) and 15 rebounds, and stole the show as the Bulls put the Spurs away in a 38-19 fourth quarter.

Ahead of the trade deadline, this win is just a small piece of the puzzle, but it’s certainly nice to see the Bulls take care of the teams they need to take care of.


Return of Drummagic

“I think that whole second unit there in the third quarter kind of opened the game up for us,” Donovan said. “We were really having a hard time with them coming downhill at us, and I think his ability to move his feet, his size at the rim, his rim protection. And then I think he just played inside his lane. He was a presence in pick-and-roll, he was a presence at the rim shot blocking, and then he was rebounding.”

The defense was key. The Bulls were giving up driving lanes all night and allowing the Spurs to remain within reach.

“That’s what I do,” Drummond said of his defense and rim protection.

Coby White (12 points, 4-of-8 shooting) was also a factor on that end. His court awareness and basketball IQ has taken a massive leap this season, and it’s showing in spades on possessions like these.

[More on Coby White’s improvements here]

White is playing his best basketball. Dragic is setting the table. Drummond and Derrick Jones Jr. are flight risks to anyone in their path. If this second unit can continue to play well, it levels the Bulls up.


Drummond has an elite skill set. He’s a monster on the glass. He’s a premier rim finisher and lob threat. And when those two things come together, he turns in performances like this one.

“Offensively he was keeping it really simple,” Donovan continued. “He was hard diving to the basket, we found him on some rolls and he got on the offensive glass. And when he does those things, it really helps our team. It changes our team in a lot of ways.”

The Drummond vibes are immaculate at the moment.

It should be noted that Nikola Vucevic (22 points on 10-of-18 shooting to lead all scorers, 12 rebounds, 4 assists) also had a great night in somewhat of a timeshare.

Put some respect on Billy Donovan’s ATO’s

Ever since things started to go south after the All-Star Break last season, critics have directed their consternation toward Billy Donovan. That noise has only gotten louder after his secret extension over the summer, which was announced as the Bulls struggles continued.

Donovan is far from blameless in this mess of a season. While he may not have all the answers, some areas of criticism seem unwarranted. Lack of creativity in play design chief among them.

Donovan, a players coach, wants to cater to the strengths of his roster. So while the “randomness” he tried to introduced might not be translating loudly, he is still dealing with largely the same roster.

In addition to judging him for the lack of creativity in the half court offense, we can look to the Bulls success in after timeout situations, which are considered an opportunity to flex their tactical muscles.

The Bulls score 0.934 points per possession on after timeout plays this season, which is 21st in the league. That’s not great, but take a look at some of these plays:

Both of these are interesting sets — a stagger screen for Nikola Vucevic, and the elevator play for Zach LaVine — but they go awry through no fault of Donovan’s.

In addition to a clunky roster, execution can be poor at times and that makes Donovan look bad. But sometimes, it’s out of his hands.

Up next: Bulls head to Memphis to play the Grizzlies on Tuesday night in their final game before the deadline. They have an opportunity to secure their first four-game win streak and reach the deadline as a .500 team.


Lead Writer and podcast co-host for CHGO covering the Chicago Bulls. A fan of the side-step and well executed defensive rotations. Previously covered the Golden State Warriors for Bleacher Report and the Bulls for the Athletic Chicago. Say hi on Twitter @will_gottlieb