After starting the first two weeks off with a 2-5 record, the Chicago Bulls turned it around in Week 3. They had a three-game homestand, taking on the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, and Detroit Pistons. What stood out most during Week 3 was the defense. This was a pleasant surprise, as the Bulls have been known as a struggling defensive team.
November 6th (Utah Jazz)
The first game was against the Utah Jazz on November 6th, where the Bulls won 130-113. The lethal duo of Zach Lavine and Demar Derozan lead the way. Zach had 24 points (8-17 FG), three assists, and two rebounds. Demar had 21 points (8-13 FG), four assists, and five rebounds. The most impressive takeaway from this game was eight players scored in double digits. Coby White (18pts) and Nikola Vucevic (10pts) were the other two starters to reach that achievement. The bench finally came to life with the help of Andre Drummond (12pts, 7rbs), Jevon Carter (12pts, four 3pters), Alex Caruso (10pts, 3ast), and Patrick Williams (10pts, two 3ptrs). Seeing someone other than Lavine hit all the threes was so relieving. This team is at its best when it shoots well from beyond the arch. They hit a total of 18 threes! This was because Patrick Williams came off the bench this game. It helped space the floor more, allowing Coby White to hit four threes. The paint defense still needs lots of work, though. Five Jazz players scored double-digital points, and four of those players were big men. Lauri Markkanen led with 29 points (revenge game), followed by Walker Kessler, who had 15 points, John Collins with 14 points, and Kelly Olynyk with 13 points.
Overall, phenomenal win. Everyone contributed, and Chicago played its best game of the year!
November 8th (Phoenix Suns)
In the second game of the homestand, the Bulls hosted the Phoenix Suns. Chicago lost a nailbiter in OT, 116-115. The defense was impressive once again. Any time you can hold a team with Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal on it to 107 points in regulation, you're doing something right. With 15 seconds left in regulation, Demar tied it at 107 with a nice finish at the rim. Durant had the opportunity to ice the game in the final possession, but tremendous defense by Alex Caruso forced him to miss the game-winning shot. In overtime, Demar hit another clutch jumper with 1:18 to put the Bulls up 115-111. But Keita Bates-Diop (7pts, 5reb, 3ast) ended up hitting a three-pointer to cut it to one, followed by a Nurkic layup to take the lead and win the game.
Nikola Vucevic led the team in scoring with 26 points. Zach Lavine had an impressive stat line of 22 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. And Demar Derozan had 22 points and seven assists. Alex Caruso was really the only other reliable source of offense this game, totaling a solid 19 points, four rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Other than that, nobody else provided significant help. Chicago was also outrebounded 54-39. You can't give them that many extra attempts when you face such a talented team like the Suns.
November 12th (Detroit Pistons)
The Detroit Pistons came to the United Center to cap off the week. The Bulls handled business and took down this young, talented team 119-108. They started off the game slow, ending the first quarter down 31-22. But after that first quarter, it was all up from there. They scored 33 in the 2nd, 29 in the 3rd, and 35 in the 4th. Detroit was able to hang around and keep it close, but Chicago pulled away in the 4th and didn't let up. They lost to the Pistons earlier in the year, so it was a much-needed bounce-back win.
Demar paved the way with 29 points, followed by Vucevic with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Lavine with 19 points. Alex Caruso was inactive this game with a left-toe injury. This allowed Ayo Dosunmu to have an expanded role (27 min), finishing with an impressive stat line of 13 points, three steals, and a +/- of +19. Coby White and Andre Drummond also played well. Coby tallied 16 points (three 3ptrs) and seven assists, while Andre was a beast on the boards (11 pts, 13 rebs). It was another unimpressive game for Pat Williams, who had four points, but they were all free throws. In 19 minutes, he shot 0-2 and had 0 rebounds, 0 assists, one block, and one steal.
It was a great week for the Bulls, finishing the week 2-1 (4-6 overall). If Chicago plays as a full unit instead of solely relying on their Big-3 of Lavine, Derozan, and Vucevic, they can be a sneaky team in the East that you don't want to have to run into during the playoffs. For them to reach their maximum potential, though, Pat Williams needs to play better. He has good games here and there, but he is very inconsistent. Once he fixes that, and they continue to shoot the three and defend well, they are a dangerous team. They'll be challenged with a tough couple of games next week, so we'll see how they deal with the competitiveness of the East.
November 13th (@ Bucks)
November 15th (vs. Magic)
November 17th (vs. Magic)
November 18th (vs. Heat)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)