Surprise trio lift Bulls over the Hornets
|Friday, February 3, 2023, 8:32 AM- -|
CHICAGO - One of the biggest question marks heading into the NBA Trade deadline is what this Chicago Bulls (24-27) team will do. This has been an underachieving team all season, yet they are still in the middle of the playoff picture with an excellent chance to make the field. The problem that comes into play is that it would be as far as they would get leaving a lot of tough decisions for this organization to face.
On the one hand, you have a great trio to build around should the Bulls want to bring it back another season. On the other hand, this team is finding it very hard to win consistently, which means some retooling may be coming. In either case, the Bulls will be the team to watch at the deadline.
In desperate need of a win, the Bulls welcomed in the Charlotte Hornets (15-38) for the second time this season as they were looking to get back on track. Once again, the Bulls were led by a trio of solid performers, but it wasn't the three you would think as the Bulls finished off the Hornets 114-98.
Typically when talking about scoring trio's Zach Lavine, Demar Derozan, and Nikola Vucevic come up. Granted, they all had double-digit games; it was a different trio stepping up, including second-year man Ayo Dosunmu who had his best game of the season. Dosunmu led the way for the Bulls with 22 points, but had a rather odd stat line. He went the entire game without a rebound or an assist which is challenging to do.
Another player who stepped up his game was Coby White, who was given extended minutes. With Alex Caruso going down in the first half, White knew his role would increase during the second half, and he was up to the challenge to lead the Bulls bench with 20 points. Speaking of surprise performances, there was a rare Andre Drummond sighting, at least in minutes.
Struggling to get on the court consistently over the last month, Drummond was called upon a ton in this one and delivered a strong showing with 15 points and 11 rebounds. This trio led the way for Chicago as they finally had a game of balance on the floor.
Although the typical trio weren't the stars in this one, they still went on to have great games and gave the Bulls three additional double-digit scorers. Vucevic made a nice pairing with Drummond to finish with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Derozan added a pedestrian 15 points. Lavine endured a rough shooting game, but still finished with 10 points to help the Bulls score the big win.
Despite the Hornets struggles this season, this team has some talent, as they were a playoff team a year ago. However, losing your best player for the first weeks and your best defender getting suspended long-term doesn't make things easy. The Hornets have found that out the hard way and have struggled because of it.
Picking up his game in recent weeks has been Terry Rozier, as the veteran guard is starting to hear his name thrown out in trade talks. Rozier had an excellent game for the Hornets, leading all scorers with 23 points while adding a surprising eight rebounds to his line. You also had LaMelo Ball continue to play well since returning from an injury, as he paired nicely with Rozier to pick up 19 points.
Those two have been the leaders all season for Charlotte, and it continued on Thursday, but consider Mason Plumlee, who is playing the best basketball of his career. Coming off a massive game against the Bulls last time out, Plumlee was at it again and battled with the Bulls bigs to pick up 16 points and 11 rebounds. He was the last of the starters to hit double figures, but the Hornets still had some great production off the bench.
Most of that came from the rookie Mark Williams who is playing well and making the most of the opportunities given to him. Despite playing just 17 minutes, Williams made the most of his time on the floor as he outscored the Hornets bench by himself to finish with 13 points and adding seven rebounds in the loss. Next up for the Bulls is the Portland Trailblazers, who come into Chicago on Saturday.