The Chicago Bulls opened their six-game road trip on Wednesday with to a 118-113 win over the Rome Bucks at the Fiserv Forum, fueled by 36 points from DeMar DeRozani and two huge 3-pointers from Coby White.
With back-to-back wins over the Boston Celtics and the Bucks, the Bulls (8-10) have shown they have the ability to compete with the best teams in the league, despite their unseasonable starts. But the tougher stretch of the season is on the beat, and I have to continue to play aggressively to avoid letdown.
Here are five takeaways from Wednesday’s victory.
1. Tired of winning at last
The Bulls were 0-7 in “catch” games, deciding them with a five-point margin and five minutes or less remaining. With a 10-point lead and 10 minutes remaining, the Bucks were in control until Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo began to assert himself in the paint, scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter to give the Bucks a late lead.
But White’s 3-pointer tied the game with 1 minute, 15 seconds left, and after Alex Caruso forced Antetokounmpo into a charge, White hit another 3 to put the Bulls back in front. Defensive consistency was the key to keeping the Bucks at bay.
“We’ve been on one defensive stop for a long time in games, and it’s shown,” DeRozan told NBC Sports Chicago on the postgame show. “We don’t need to do that, especially against good teams competing in this league.”
The Bucks’ win was important for the team’s confidence. They have lost 17 of their last 19 against Milwaukee since 2018-19, including a five-year loss in the first round of the playoffs. With a large handful of Bulls fans traveling down I-94, it sounded like a home game at times.
2. Coby White shows he deserves more minutes.
With Goran Dragić out with pain in his left shoulder, White got extended minutes off the bench and made it count.
I always tell him, if one, two. three, whatever the shooting guard, DeRozan later told reporters. “He’s got that ability to get hot, and I’m looking for Cob every moment of the game.”
White missed eight games with a bruised left thigh and was then slowly withdrawn by coach Billy Donovan for the next two. But Ayo Dosunmu committed the turnovers late in the fourth quarter, and White came back with less than four minutes left to help save the day.
White finished with 14 points on 5-for-10 shooting, including 4 of 7 3-pointers while playing more than 25 minutes, averaging a career-low 19.6 minutes in 10 games, which also affected his 3-point shooting. making only 4.8 attempts per game and making 31.3%. Last season White shot a career-best 38.5% from beyond the arc and averaged 5.8 attempts per game.
With the Bulls starting to have problems getting better early in the season, maybe Donovan should replace Dosunmu with White in the starting lineup to see if he can fix the problem.
3. Everyone entered the 3-point act
Bulls finished with a team-high 18 3-pointers against the Bucks in 42 attempts, with Nikola Vučević adding four and Zach LaVine three assists. The Bucks entered the game with the fifth fewest 3-point attempts allowed per game at 31.1 in the league, but the Bulls found ways to get someone open, and the Dogs were their lead.
“They were moving the ball well and guys were hitting it,” Bucks guard Grayson Allen told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Usually with that team you want the hands of DeRozan and Lavine. We did that. We didn’t just try to outrun the other guys, but we just moved him and hit shots.
4. World Cup fever
One of the funniest moments of the night came when Antetokounmpo dropped a ball and dramatically hit the floor after barely touching the shoulder of Vučević, who he was covering. “Elizabeth I’m coming, Elizabeth,” bubble analyst Stacey King shouted when describing the Greek Freak flop.
For those under 60 who didn’t know who Elizabeth was, King referenced Redd Foxx’s catchphrase made popular in the 1970s “Sanford & Son.” Foxx’s character, Fred Sanford, had a fake heart attack when he cried out to his late wife, saying “Elizabeth, I’m coming to you, honey.”
Play-by-play man Adam Amin also wondered if Antetokounmpo had watched the Qatar World Cup, where flopping was rampant during the games.
5. A good start on a non-circus journey
The Bulls do not have an official circus route, an extended swing from the arrival of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to the old Chicago Stadium and United Center.
But The six-game road trip began on Wednesday it has the same reason. The Bulls travel to Oklahoma City on Friday before games against the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. They return home on December 7 against the Washington Wizards.
The Bulls went 3-2 on a similar road trip last November, including back-to-back wins between the Los Angeles Clippers and Jets, after being held by the Warriors in San Francisco.
With the Jazz and Kings playing well and the Warriors and Suns combined 17-2 at home, a 3-3 record on this very difficult road trip for the Bulls would probably be enough.
But after an emotional win against the Bucks and taking on a rebuilding Thunder team Friday, the Bulls can think big.