Bulls earn big win over Denver defeat Nuggets 117-96
เวลา:2023-03-13  ผู้เขียน:

So maybe it wasnt the lack of three-point shooting, the rebounding and size deficit and the lack of a true point guard thats resulted in this sub-.500 season for the Bulls. It just may be their biggest problem is theyve been playing in the wrong conference.

Because Wednesday the Bulls absolutely dominated, dismantled, deactivated, desecrated, dismembered, deactivated and demoralized the Western Conference leading Denver Nuggets 117-96 in a game, as we like to say or used to, that wasnt as close as the final score indicates.

Make that D an F for the the team running away with its conference lead, the team with that supposedly heightened home court advantage at a mile above sea level. It was the Bulls who took away their breath, and in the process their nine-game home winning streak of the team with the leagues best home court record and supposedly the leading candidate for league MVP in Nikola Jokić.

But even Jokić in addition to the seemingly thousands of Bulls fans serenading the losers with Lets Go Bulls, the last two minutes of the blowout Bulls win knew it all seemed futile for the Nuggets.

They were much better, admitted Jokić, mostly the second best Nikola in the game, the superior one being the Bulls Vučević with 25 points and 15 rebounds. They were playing better, they were getting easy baskets, they were getting open looks. I think they actually missed a lot of open looks, especially from the three. They were getting to the paint easy.

Seriously, MVP? Of the whole league?

Hes been the best player on the Bulls this season, averaging almost six more points per game than DeMar DeRozan the last two months. LaVine in that stretch since early January is averaging just short of 28 per game while shooting more than 50 percent overall. LaVine Wednesday again led the Bulls in scoring, this time with 29 points on 12 of 18 shooting. And that 50 percent overall is remarkable because we know how many difficult shots LaVine attempts.

LaVine Wednesday also made nine layups, most with Jokić toggling between traffic cone and turnstile. But this was less about what Jokić couldnt do and what LaVine can. Not many in the league can stay with him when hes full speed ahead to the basket like he was against the Nuggets.

I was able to get downhill, create, said LaVine. Ive been feeling that way for awhile now. Keep it going.

And perhaps with this sort of game when few imagined it was possible the Bulls can keep it going even now at 30-36 and still 11th in the Eastern Conference.

At this point, we dont care about what happened before, said LaVine. We have to win every game. We are trying to win every game because that is the position we put ourselves in. Each win is a big time win if it is versus Denver or versus anybody. So that is just the mentality going forward to give ourselves a chance to get where we want to go.

It still remains uncertain where the Bulls are headed. But it seems like it would be a big mistake without LaVine, who turns 28 Friday. LaVine is the best shooter on the team and the most athletic player in an NBA era of great shooters and great athletes. He seems like the one irreplaceable player on the team who most fits the style of basketball being played in this so called modern NBA.

LaVines parents and family came to Denver to surprise him for the game against the Nuggets. But it was the Nuggets who didnt see it coming.

They just got out and ran, missed shot, layup, turnover, layup, noted Denver coach Michael Malone about the Bulls. Nothing went right tonight. We didnt play well, I didnt coach well. I cant remember the last time we had a game like this.

Some of the numbers were stark, the Bulls with a massive 66-38 advantage inside, 19-5 on fast break points, 26 assists. And thats still with Denver making 15 threes to eight for the Bulls.

It mostly broke for the Bulls after trailing 52-51 at halftime, LaVine with 15 and Vučević with 13 at that point.

Then came the avalanche, though it may we as well have been the Denver NHL team since the Bulls had the Nuggets defenders sliding around like they were on ice. And heading for the deep freeze.

The Bulls broke open the game with a 16-3 third quarter run highlighted by Alex Caruso passing ahead for a powerhouse, rim rattling, hammer of a slam dunk by LaVine.

Patrick Williams, effective and efficient again with 18 points off the bench, closed the run with a three that gave the Bulls a 79-66 lead. The Nuggets, who had led 14-4 to start the game, had a last gasp run in them with eight straight points. But the Bulls led by a Williams dunk on a Coby White pass stretched back out to an 87-76 lead after three quarters.

And then the rout was on with a DeRozan followup tip-in he had 17 points and a team high eight assists Vučević with a couple of short scores in the lane and then LaVine back in the game with another three pointer to give the Bulls a 104-83 lead with under six minutes remaining.

Thats what its like to get snowed under.

It starts with our offense, said Bulls coach Billy Donovan. When theyre moving the ball and making quick, decisive decisions, and the ball is getting from one action to the next, thats when were at our best. It kind of connects us. I think it connects us defensively, as well. The thing that was encouraging was that it sustained. Ive said this before not that every possession or every minute was perfect but it wasnt really these long droughts of a quarter or half. Our challenge in Houston (Saturday) is can we come back and do it again? Weve had some games where we played against high-level teams that have had an incredible year and competed real well and won games against some of those teams. But the consistency part is what we have to be able to do. Im really excited and happy about the way the guys played.

And LaVine, whos on quite a run averaging 34.8 points the last four games while shooting 51 percent overall and 55 percent on threes. And with dunks that will take your breath away even at less than 5,280 feet.

We played really good, and I think that everyone played aggressive and confident, said LaVine. Defensively, everyone gave good effort and made up for each others mistakes (holding Denver fifth in the league in scoring to its second fewest points scored of the season). Overall, we played a really good game with a good attitude.

And at altitude, no less. And who knows, maybe theres even more of that mountain they can climb.

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