Bulls put up season-high 134 points vs. Timberwolves after standing pat at trade deadline
The hope is that their injured players will return soon. Until then, DeMar DeRozan continues to lead the way, scoring 35 points in the Bulls’ victory.
Coach Billy Donovan and the Bulls’ front office “like this group,” as they said before and after making no moves at Thursday’s trade deadline.
Maybe they’re on to something.
The Bulls (35-21) got a game-high 35 points from All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan and another 26 from center Nikola Vucevic and put up a 42-point fourth quarter in a 134-122 dismantling of the visiting Timberwolves on Friday night at the United Center.
While the Nets, 76ers, Cavaliers and other Eastern Conference teams made significant trades this week, the Bulls chose to stand pat — and weren’t stressing about it.
“When we get healthy and we do what we are supposed to do, I don’t see anybody better than us in the East,” All-Star guard Zach LaVine said. “That’s just my opinion. Competition-wise, you step on the line, you go throw the ball up, I don’t think anybody’s better than us.”
Donovan wasn’t as bold in his comments but is excited about getting Patrick Williams (wrist surgery), Lonzo Ball (knee surgery) and Alex Caruso (wrist surgery) back on the court. He’s also OK with the Bulls adding a buyout candidate if the opportunity presents itself.
“If there’s something that can help us, certainly I think [executive vice president of basketball operations] Arturas [Karnisovas] will do his job,” Donovan said, speaking to reporters for the first time since the deadline. “The player piece of it will be, how does a player fit here? Is the player comfortable in that role? You want it to be a good chemistry piece for your team.”
That’s on Karnisovas and the front office to worry about. Donovan’s primary mission is making sure he can keep everyone else healthy until more help arrives.
That starts with LaVine, who looked a bit banged-up Friday as he went 5-for-14 from the field for just 12 points.
“This time of year, I don’t feel anybody is feeling probably great,” Donovan said. “He’s had to deal with his knee. He’s had to deal with his back. It’s a lot right now. We’ll have to work through this with him right now.’’
That means meeting with LaVine before Saturday’s game against the Thunder — the second game in a back-to-back — and seeing if he needs a night to heal.
What didn’t need any healing Friday was the rest of the Bulls’ offense. The team shot a season-best 63.2% (55-for-87) from the field, with contributions from Javonte Green (23 points) and Coby White (22 off the bench). The Bulls also finished with 32 assists and outrebounded the Timberwolves 43-32.
Rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu, fresh out of the concussion protocol, had 14 points and 10 assists.
“I felt good,” Dosunmu said. “We have so many great players on our team. It’s kind of my job to put guys into position to be successful. [Friday] was just an example of how we have guys that can play at a high level.
“When you’re all built for one common goal — to win and play for each other — that’s when it makes it easier on a coaching staff of who they can plug in. When you have guys [injured], other guys can step up and compete.”