The Bulls’ point differential took a hit after their 25-point loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.
But they more than made up for it with a 28-point win against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Winning 124-96, the Bulls got back on track in the first of their three-game road trip.
Thought DeMar DeRozan (quad) and Javonte Green (knee) were out, the Bulls had no trouble taking care of the Blazers, who were missing Damian Lillard, Jusuf Nurkic, Jerami Grant, and Justise Winslow.
It was a game they should have won by 25 or more. And they did. They played much closer to last year’s team that took care of business against the bottom feeders, than this year’s edition, which can blow a 20-point lead against anyone.
With the game being so out of hand, there wasn’t a ton of strategy to analyze. Instead, here are five things that stood out from a few notable players.
Ups and downs with Patrick Williams
10 points — fine. Three blocks — great. 3-of-12 shooting — no bueno.
Credit to Patrick Williams for keeping aggressive when things were not going his way, but this kind of offensive performance is a head-scratcher against a team that had no interest in trying to win.
Williams was 1-of-8 inside the arc, missed a handful of layups and got blocked on a few more. His decision making appears to be predetermined based on the result of his last touch, rather than reading what the defense is allowing him and reacting in real time.
His stutter step, in-and-out dribble has become a fixture of his arsenal, when all he really needs to do is put his shoulder into a defender and go up strong. When he does it, it looks so effortless.
But more often than not, he makes east-west moves that don’t help him get anywhere.
Learning recognition is a slow process, but there’s no reason he shouldn’t have been able to score 20 against this Blazers team.
Nikola Vucevic inbetwixt
If you’ve ever heard Big Dave read a FOCO ad on our show, you know the inflection. ‘In betwixt!’
Everyone knows Vucevic can stretch out the floor from three and has a nice back to the basket post game. But his in-between game is an underappreciated aspect of his offensive arsenal. His floater game from the non-rim paint area is really impressive.
Vucevic finished with 23 points (10-of-13 shooting) and 15 rebounds, and remains a pillar of the Bulls offense, whether we appreciate him for it or not.
Dalen Terry flashes
There hasn’t been a lot of Dalen Terry this year, but what we have seen is interesting.
With DeRozan out, Terry got some run time in the second quarter and garbage time and showed off some of his finesse as a passer.
This sort of playmaking is exactly what intrigued me about Terry coming out of the draft. Long, athletic wings who can pass and have a high IQ is a commodity in the NBA, and that seems to be Terry’s natural instinct. It’s the shooting, driving and finishing that needs work.
In 17 minutes, Terry had six points, four rebounds and three assists. Positive growth for the Bulls rookie.
Coby White’s go-to move
As Coby White’s hot stretch continues, his ball handling, specifically his behind-the-back move, really stands out.
Playing off the threat of his jump shot, White has been underrated in his ability to get to the rim and create shots. He had a similar move on Wednesday against the 76ers.
Scoring 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including four threes, White has scored double figures in five of his last six games and is generating efficient offense for himself and others.
Zach LaVine in god mode
With three games in four nights, all of which are on the road, it was nice to limit Zach LaVine to 30 minutes and sit him the entire fourth quarter with the game decided early.
That didn’t prevent LaVine from going bananas while he was on the floor, finishing with 33 points (12-of-20 shooting, 6-of-9 threes) and eight assists to only three turnovers.
LaVine has been fantastic as a scorer lately, but the eight assists really stand out. The threat of his scoring has opened up the offense and his reads as a facilitator are looking more and more fluid. He’s in peak form at the right time.
Play in implications
With wins from the Raptors and Wizards, and a loss from the Pacers, the Bulls keep pace and remain in the 10th seed.
Up Next: The road trip continues with the Lakers for a Sunday matinee.
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