Last night, the Chicago Bulls knocked off the last remaining undefeated team, the Utah Jazz, led by Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Detracters and fans of the Bulls alike saw this matchup as the second real test for this newly constructed team after their tough loss to the Knicks earlier this week. While Bulls fans believed their team was up for the challenge, others doubted that the Bulls could contend with the Jazz’s shooting and Gobert’s tough interior defense and rebounding. Aggressive play on both ends helped the Showtime Bulls prove them wrong.
DeMar DeRozan led the team with 32 points and could not be stopped from the mid-range all night. Zach LaVine also finished with 26 points, playing much more aggressively and attacking the rim despite Gobert’s paint presence. While the rest of the team struggled to score consistently, the Bulls defense suffocated the Jazz, forcing 20 turnovers and holding the Jazz to 38% shooting from the field. In the absence of Patrick Williams, the rotation expanded to give Tony Bradley, Derrick Jones Jr., and Javonte Green larger roles which they filled well.
Star of the Game
DeRozan clearly led the Bulls to victory. Even though the Jazz used great defenders like Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and Bojan Bogdanovic to try and stop him, DeMar looked unstoppable. His trademark contested mid-range shooting was on full display last night in the United Center. Billy Donovan trusts him to handle any additional scoring load that might arise when Nikola Vucevic is having an off night or when Zach’s hand is throwing him off. Last night was his fifth 20-point game so far this season.
My biggest concern from last night was Vooch’s poor performance. He shot a horrific 21% on 4 for 19 shooting. While he had moments where he looked good, there was one sequence that got me out of my seat… and not in a good way. On defense, he failed to rotate out to cover a shooter and looked completely lost. Immediately after that, he was in the wrong spot and failed to catch the ball on offense. Even on TV, I could tell that his teammates were disappointed in him, and Donovan pulled him from the game immediately.
This is his worst start to a season in his career. With the terrible news of Patrick Williams’ injury and the lack of size on the roster, Vucevic being his best self is crucial to the Bulls’ long-term success. Let’s just say I’m very nervous.
The biggest surprise from this game was how well Derrick Jones Jr. and Tony Bradley played. With Williams out and Javonte Green in foul trouble early, Donovan called on them to contribute early, and they did not disappoint. Derrick hustled his way into 3 blocks, a steal, and a monster slam in transition. Even though he hasn’t played much so far this season, it looks like he will be a great addition to the rotation.
Against his former team, Tony Bradley did not disappoint. He looked great covering the pick-and-roll that the Jazz run every single possession. Billy Donovan used a few different schemes for covering the pick-and-roll, but Bradley seemed to grasp all of the concepts and didn’t get exposed when switching onto smaller players. He also had two great blocks on Hassan Whiteside.
At Boston Celtics on November 1st at 6:30PM Central
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