Brunson drops 45 as Knicks get revenge on Bulls
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Brunson drops 45 as Knicks get revenge on Bulls

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - There has certainly been a lot of news swirling around the Chicago Bulls (37-42), and most of that news has surrounded their head coach, Billy Donovan. Although his job is safe, and he appears committed to remaining in Chicago, there is an intriguing job opening in Lexington, Kentucky, as the University of Kentucky plans to make a run at Donovan.

That could be a good thing for the Chicago Bulls, as this roster needs a complete reset to get back to being respectable. Despite another shaky season in which they are guaranteed to have a losing record, the Bulls will be in the postseason for a third consecutive season, even if this is a play-in berth.

Anytime you put yourself in the playoffs, you are giving yourself a chance, and the Bulls are giving themselves a chance despite the inconsistent struggles. With just four games remaining on their schedule, the Bulls welcomed the New York Knicks (47-32) back to the United Center after taking care of them last week. Expected things to be different this time around, it was the 45-point effort from Jalen Brunson that stole the show as the Knicks used that to power their way to a 128-117 victory.

This was another one of those games where the Bulls had to play from behind, as a rough first quarter set the tone for the remainder of the game. No, this wasn't as bad as their showing against the Magic on Sunday, but any time you allow nearly 40 points in the opening quarter and find yourself down by nine, it's not a good position to be in.

The final three quarters saw the Bulls show the competitive nature they tend to show against some of the better teams, as the Bulls were outscored by only two the rest of the way. If this team can figure out how to play a full 48 minutes and eliminate the rough quarters, it could be dangerous.

Anytime you put up nearly 120 points and have four very good quarters scoring-wise, you know you are getting plenty of balance across the board, which the Bulls had. Three of their starters were responsible for most of the scoring, with Demar Derozan leading the way again with 34 points. At this point, it is almost a broken record for what he can do on the court, as he will be desperately missed if the Bulls can't come to terms on a new deal for him.

Joining Derozan were a pair of players longing for big games who combined to drop 50 points between them. We are talking about Nikola Vucevic and Coby White, as both finally had a big offensive showing. Coming off one of his worst showings of the season, Vucevic rebounded with a 26-point performance. White is just looking to get back to his December and February level, but a late-season hip injury seems to have hampered him a bit.

There have been games like this one where White continues to show his scoring ability, but the consistency he showed early in the season has been the difference. White came away with 24 additional points to give the Bulls a big three. Chicago also benefitted from Alex Caruso and Javonte Green adding nine points as Green filled in for Ayo Dosunumu, who was given the night off for rest.

As metioned, Brunson was the story of the game as he came through with 45 points. 21 of those points came from beyond the arc where he connected on 7-12 from distance. What stands out the most with those numbers is that Brunson nearly scored as many points from deep as the Bulls did, with Chicago only connecting on 10 triples as a team.

Brunson was backed by two other players having 20-plus point nights with all five of the Knicks starters scoring in double figures and being responsible for 118 of the teams 128 points. That type of production will win you a ton of games, and the Knicks know they will need more performances like that with Julius Randle done for the year.

OG Anunoby continues to play well for his new team, adding 24 points, with Donte DiVincenzo chipping in with 21 points and six assists. Throw in the 17-point, 13-rebound effort from Josh Hart and 11 points from Isaiah Hartenstein, and the Knicks were too much for Chicago to handle on Tuesday.

On a sour note, veteran big man Andre Drummond injured his ankle in the game and left the arena in a wheelchair, putting his status in question for the rest of the season. These same teams will close out the regular season on Sunday, but the Bulls will first see the Detroit Pistons on Thursday as they look to even up the season series.

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