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Takeaways: Ayo Dosunmu and Andre Drummond carry the Chicago Bulls in win over the Hornets

Will Gottlieb Avatar
February 3, 2023

In a game where Zach LaVine (10 points on 3-of-8 shooting) and DeMar DeRozan (15 points on 4-of-12 shooting) didn’t bring their best, it was Ayo Dosunmu (22 points), Andre Drummond (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Coby White (20 points) who carried the load.

With Patrick Williams and Alex Caruso both exiting the game with injury, it could have been a recipe for another deflating, late-game collapse.

The Hornets cut the lead from 17 down to 7 with 6:30 left to go in the fourth quarter. But after a Nikola Vucevic post hook and a Williams corner three, the Bulls were able to extend their lead back to 12 and hold off the Hornets.

Despite a few more small pushes to get back down to single digits, the Bulls did their job and finished off the Charlotte Hornets 114-98 on Thursday night.

In a season where the Bulls have struggled putting away poor teams, this game still only would have been a big deal had they lost. Fair or not, this was not a statement win, it’s just what they needed to do.

Alex Caruso injured

With 10:21 left in the second quarter, left the game with what the Bulls called a right foot sprain.

It appeared to happen late in the first quarter on a putback attempt — he was slow to get up after landing awkwardly.

Obviously losing Caruso is a huge deal. The Bulls have been careful not to overextend him this season, cutting his minutes from 28 per game last season to 24.5 this year, in hopes that it will allow him to play more than the 41 games he played last season. So far, it has worked — this was game 45 for Caruso out of the 51 Bulls games this season.

In addition to being an All-NBA caliber defender, Caruso is one of the hottest names on the trade market. Any extended absence will have huge ramifications on this team, both short and long term.

Bubble wrap this man until at least February 9.

[More: A day-by-day journal of the CHGO Bulls trip to Paris]

Patrick Williams turns his ankle

Williams was the second Bull to take an injury hit during the game. Turning his ankle late, Williams exited the game with 4:33 left in the fourth quarter and did not return.

There was no official injury listed from the Bulls, but Billy Donovan said Williams injured his right ankle.

In speaking to Williams after the game, he did not seem too concerned.

“I’ll be fine. I’ve dealt with this plenty of times before,” Williams said. “No, no. As long as I can walk, I’ll be out there.”

Ayo Dosunmu, full throttle

Dosunmu has had a relatively quiet stretch here of late, but came out of the gates hot against the Hornets.

Finishing with a season-high tying 22 points (9-of-10 shooting), Dosunmu went full throttle putting pressure on the rim before the defense could get set.

“What happens sometimes with Vooch, because he’s popping a lot of times on those plays, sometimes his man is a little worried about getting back to him,” Billy Donovan said. “So he kind of leaves the coverage early that creates that gap on made baskets. On some of the missed shots where the floor is spaced and he’s got a head of steam, we want him to probe and attack as much as he can.”

Spurned by not being included in the Rising Stars Game?

Importantly, with Caruso out, he also took over as the primary point-of-attack defender and had a hellish impact on LaMelo Ball, who struggled to get the Hornets into their sets with Dosunmu picking him up full court.

Ball finished with 19 points on 8-of-18 shooting. He also turned the ball over 4 times.

If Caruso does miss any time, it will be on Dosunmu to carry the burden.

The Drummond experience

After picking up five DNP-CD’s in the last eight games, and playing only total 13 minutes during that stretch, Drummond was inserted back into the rotation after Clippers’ center Ivica Zubac had his way with the Bulls small lineup feature Derrick Jones Jr. on Tuesday night.

It started shaky, with Drummond picking up two fouls, including one technical, in his first three minutes of play. But with Caruso exiting the game, the Bulls needed Jones Jr. to soak up those backup power forward minutes, giving runway for Drummond’s extended time.

“Yeah, I wanted it,” he said of the technical. It felt good to get it.”

But he was just happy to be out there.

And he was fantastic. He had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 11 rebounds in only 15 minutes. Per Bulls PR, he became the first NBA player since 1978-79 (Darryl Dawkins) to record at least 15 points and 11 rebounds in a game in 15 minutes or under.

The Drummond experience was been all over the place this season. He shows moments of incredible rebounding and put-back prowess, but can be erratic and overzealous more often than not.

For now, he’s just happy to get those minutes when his number is called.

DeMar DeRozan, All-Star reserve

Prior to the game, DeMar DeRozan got the nod for his second consecutive and sixth career All-Star game.

Read more about his thoughts, Dalen Terry giving him the news and what Dosunmu had to say about his teammate getting the nod here.

Up next: Trail Blazers come to the United Center Saturday night, which will represent the third-to-last game prior to the trade deadline

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