Bulls put together another strong offensive performance for third straight win
Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan combined for 27 fourth-quarter points. The Bulls shot 6-for-7 from three-point range in the final 12 minutes, decimating the Jazz’s energy.
It looked like the Bulls were set to take 10 steps back against the Jazz after taking two steps forward against two of the East’s elite teams.
It has been the story of their season, so it wouldn’t have shocked anyone.
But late-game sparks from Patrick Williams and Coby White were enough for the Bulls to retake the lead and secure a 126-118 victory against the Jazz.
“The thing I love about Coby when something negative happens where he knows he can be better, he always responds,” coach Billy Donovan said. “I appreciate him not getting off to a great offensive start and sticking with it. The same thing for Patrick. That’s the thing you need to do.”
After two impressive performances from Williams, including a season-high 22 points Wednesday against the Nets, he was held to one point through the first 39 minutes by Utah.
But with nine minutes left and the Bulls trailing by four, he and White, who was scoreless until that point, exchanged buckets. They combined for 11 points in less than two minutes to put the Bulls back on top and force a Jazz timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan went to work. They combined for 27 points in the fourth quarter.
LaVine had some residual three-point magic from his 41-point game against the 76ers sprinkled over him Saturday night. He had 11 points in the first quarter and 17 by the half, going 2-for-4 from three-point range. He opened the third quarter with another three and had 36 points for the game. He shot 6-for-12 from long range. Donovan said he wants to see 10 to 15 threes from LaVine every game.
LaVine’s response was concise: “I’ll try if I can.”
DeRozan scored 35, and Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 16 rebounds.
“We’re finding a rhythm, sharing the ball and understanding our spots,” DeRozan said. “But mainly understanding when we get stops, get out in transition to get easy possessions and easy shots. We’ve been doing that more times than not. It’s been good for us.”
The Bulls and Jazz appeared sluggish at the start. It took nearly two minutes for either to draw first blood.
After Vucevic made a five-foot hook shot, the game got going, sort of. Through much of the first quarter, only Vucevic and LaVine were able to muster much offense.
Sloppy passing was compounded by poor shot selection in the first half. Let’s just chalk up the slow start to the aftereffects of being on the back end of a back-to-back.
The Jazz outscored the Bulls 68-40 in the paint behind a dominant performance by ex-Bull Lauri Markkanen, who finished with 28 points. The Bulls also struggled to contain Jordan Clarkson, who had 18 points. Late in the third quarter, Markkanen put Vucevic on a poster, finishing with force at the rim and topping it off with a stare-down.
The Bulls are 8-3 since giving up 150 points to the Timberwolves last month and could be 10-1 if NBA officiating hadn’t blown late calls in each of their losses to the Cavaliers last week. But let’s not dredge up the past.
LaVine didn’t acknowledge that Minnesota loss as a turning point. Instead, he mentioned some advice from his dad.
“Sometimes you need a little bit of [a butt-kicking] to get you back in the right place,” LaVine said.