With a 123-110 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Friday, the Bulls claimed a three-game winning streak for the first time since. 23 February 2019.
Here’s what stood out:
The essence comes to play
Bulls fans have been yearning Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen to find a flow coordinating with each other for years. We’ve seen their pick and twist chemistry go strides under the leadership of Billy Donovan. We saw both of them take steps forward at the end of the attack.
Against the Hornets, they led the offensive attack. LaVine scored 15 points on a 6-7 shot (2 to 3 of 3) in the first half, while Markkanen scored 13 points 6 against 10. From the third quarter gate, the team’s first field goal on the LaVine swing came to the Markkanen hat-trick.
Lavigne finished tonight with 25 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds including 9 points in the fourth quarter which helped snowboard in the competition. Markanin scored 23 points on 10 against 17, and his attempts evenly weighed between 2- (9) and 3 points (8).
In 2019-20, Lavigne and Markanen each scored 20 points or more in the same match six times in 46 chances. In the eight matches they played together this year, they achieved the feat three times.
Coby White also achieved the desired performance, with 18 points, 8 assists, and 2 steals. All three combined for 66 points of 123 Bulls.
The bull seat is still better than most other seats
The reserves of the bulls again gave rise to multiple waves at this tide. After the Hornets grew by six points in the first quarter, contributions from THAAD Young, Garrett Temple, Otto Porter Jr., Denzel Valentine and Tomáš Satoranský helped secure a 1PP lead.
Then, late in the third half, the Hornets switched to squeezing the ball into the entire court on multiple possessions to try to dig their defeats. Buckets from Porter and Temple pushed the lead to 12 entered the final frame. Bench scoring ended 46-20 in favor of bulls.
Young and Temple (15 points, three seconds), in particular, set an active defensive tone after the Hornets initially started offensively. Valentine’s Day hit 2 3s and pinned 3 passes. Porter scored 7 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. In his first action since December 29 after recovering from COVID-19, Tomas Saturnsky received 4 assists in 11 minutes.
Young talents win press conferences, but these vets are winning matches.
- Gafford begins: With Wendell Carter Jr. sidelined due to a right quadruple bruise, Daniel Gaford started his first game of the season. He played 19 minutes in typical fashion, scored 7 points, had 6 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
- Out of the Night by Patrick Williams: It was the story of Williams’ comeback, but he had a rare night as he looked like a rookie, scoring 4 points on a 2-to-7 shot. Anxiety was dismissing him in several open 3-point chances.
- Hutchison on the sidelines: Along with Satoransk, Chandler Hutchison was active for the first time since December 29 after recovering from COVID-19. Donovan’s rotation went as deep as 10 men, but Hutchison scored a DNP.
- Inside battle: The Bulls won the Battle of Paint Points 64-52, offensive boards 15-11 and second chance points difference 18-6.
Measure stick game
Donovan played down the notion that beating the Hornets could send a statement, given the relatively equal footing of the Bulls in the Eastern Conference hierarchy. Focus on growing in a vacuum.
Nevertheless, this is an important and well-deserved win over the struggling Hornets at their level in the Eastern Conference. Another measuring stick: The Bulls, for the fourth time this season, scored 30 assists, and won the battle of turns 20-17. Crime is rolling.
With the victory, they moved to 7-8. Next up: The Lakers at the United Center on Saturdays.