6 observations: LaVine, DeRozan make history in Bulls’ rally originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The Chicago Bulls have blown six leads of 16 points or more this season.
Sunday afternoon at the United Center, they flipped the script.
Roaring back from a 23-point, first-half deficit, the Bulls dominated the second half in an impressive 128-107 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The comeback victory moved the Bulls one step closer to officially clinching a spot in the play-in tournament.
Here are six observations:
1. Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan became the first duo in franchise history to post 20 30-point games in a season. Given that Michael Jordan and basically any teammate covers a wide spectrum, it’s a notable achievement.
“Wow. That’s the first time that’s been done, really?” LaVine told NBC Sports Chicago. “When me and DeMar are able to click like that, it’s incredible. It shows how good of scorers we are and how we’re able to complement each other. It takes a lot for two guys to get 30 in a game. You obviously have to make shots, but you also have to be unselfish. Hopefully we can have more of that going forward.”
LaVine scored 36 points with nine assists. DeRozan added 31 points with seven assists. It’s the fourth time this season they’ve scored 30 or more points in the same game.
2. The Bulls scored 31 points off 18 Grizzlies’ turnovers, including 29 points off 16 turnovers in the second half.
“You got guys like Pat (Beverley) and AC (Alex Caruso) flying around, it allows me and DeMar to play the passing lanes a little bit more,” LaVine said. “Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) out there blocking shots. Even though Vooch doesn’t jump high, he still contests shots well. He’s doing a great job.”
Coach Billy Donovan also credited a second half led by Patrick Williams, Coby White and Derrick Jones Jr. for providing more active hands after a slow start in that department.
The Bulls have scored a staggering 144 points off turnovers over their last five games.
“We’re doing a better job of spacing the floor,” Donovan said. “There were times where we got steals and we’d run just to the basket. We have to understand giving each other room and space to breath and to play. Guys are doing a good job of getting out wide and knowing we either have to run to the 3-point line if we don’t have an advantage or to the rim to get layups. “
3. On the flip side, the Bulls tied a franchise record with just three turnovers. They would’ve set a franchise record had they not intentionally taken a shot-clock violation with 3.5 seconds left.
The Bulls had one other shot-clock violation and only one true turnover. But even that came when Beverely tried a full-length, baseball pass at the end of the first half. The Bulls had no turnovers in the halfcourt setting.
“They’re an aggressive team. They play with their hands a lot,” White said. “We did a good job of making simple passes.”
4. White continued his stellar play with 19 points, six rebounds and four assists.
“It’s not just the shooting,” Donovan said. “It’s the competitiveness and spirit and things he’s doing that are impacting winning.”
Along those lines, Donovan pointed to White executing strong rotational blockouts and tipping the ball to teammates if he couldn’t corral the rebound.
“Those things will never show up in the stat sheet, but they’re huge,” Donovan said.
White downplays talk of his individual growth.
“I’m just getting better and thankful I have the opportunity I have right now. I just go out there and hoop,” he said. “I think I’ve gotten better and moving on to the next play, not letting it linger if I make a mistake.”
5. Overall, the Bulls’ bench enjoyed a 41-18 scoring edge. Williams also reached double figures.
But Donovan also pointed to Jones Jr. playing the second half over Andre Drummond as instrumental to the Bulls turning defense into offense. Jones Jr. allows the Bulls to switch screens, and Donovan thought Memphis’ pick-and-roll attack did first-half damage, particularly with spray-out passes for open 3-pointers.
Jones Jr. even played against the much-bigger Jaren Jackson Jr. down the stretch, holding his own as Jackson Jr. battled foul trouble.
6. Talk about a difference in two halves.
The Bulls used a 40-16 third quarter in which the United Center was as loud as it’s been all season to completely flip the script. They outscored the Grizzlies 75-39 in the second half.
“We played well. I give them all the credit,” Donovan said. “Coming into the half, Patrick Beverley is great. He said you have to embrace adversity.”
The Bulls overcame a 1-for-10 start to post their 44-point turnaround. They outscored the Grizzlies 70-36 in the paint and 28-10 on fast-break points. They repeatedly turned defense into offense, often finishing with dunks that made the United Center even louder.
“We just kept playing fast. We got a couple more stops. We had a lot of conversations here,” LaVine said of the halftime chatter. “They were shooting a lot of 3s and making a lot. If a team shoots like that the whole game, you tip your hat to them. Can’t do a lot. But we stuck with it and flipped the game.”
The Grizzlies shot 13-for-25 in the first half from 3-point range and 6-for-18 in the second half.
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