For the second time in a row, a match between the Chicago Bulls and the Atlanta Hawks decided with a flip-in at the horn.
But this time, via a buzzer from Ayo Dosunmu, it was the Bulls who held the lead, 110-108, for a road win that propelled them to 13-18 on the season and 2-0 since the season came. to its lowest point. in Sunday’s blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Here are 10 observations:
1. Tuesday’s rebounding victory over the Miami Heat presented a model of balanced scoring and active defense that the Bulls must repeat consistently if they are to turn their season around. On Wednesday, the latter was remarkably on hand to start. The Bulls set a physical tone from the jumper against the Hawks, turning sharply and holding non-Trae Young players to 9 points and 4-of-14 shooting (1-of-7 from 3-point range) in the first quarter.
(The reason why Not young The distinction to be used is because the Hawks’ star point guard chipped in 16 points and shot 4-of-7 from 3-point range in the first quarter to keep his team within striking distance, a 30-25 deficit, by end of the frame. But the good news is that those 3s were mostly very deep or very contested shots. The great players will do that. But his simmering start wasn’t the product of defensive failures by the Bulls.)
2. In turn, the Bulls went ahead by as many as 18 points in the second quarter. By halftime, they were shooting 57.5 percent and had forced 10 Hawks turnovers, a recipe for success and a 61-51 lead. That marked just the Bulls’ eighth halftime lead of the season (they entered the game 7-0 in such games) and their first on the road.
3. But the team also suffered a brutal blow when Alex Caruso came out in the second quarter after taking a big hit in a collision with De’Andre Hunter. The clash came when both players lunged for a loose ball, but Caruso got the brunt of the exchange; he remained on the floor for the Bulls’ fast break that followed until DeMar DeRozan committed an intentional foul to stop the game.
Caruso did not return to the contest and was initially diagnosed with a sprained right shoulder. Now, according to Donovan and Bulls PR, he is in concussion protocol.
Four. With Caruso sidelined, Young ran wild in the final 2:29 of the second quarter, scoring 13 points via two 3-pointers, a layup and one and four free throws. To start the third quarter, Ayo Dosunmu joined the first unit and drew Young’s loan.
While Young was 2-for-10 in the second half, the Hawks’ offense was noticeably more efficient after Caruso’s injury. Although the Bulls ultimately prevailed, Atlanta scored 70 points in the final 26:29 of the game (15 more than the Bulls’ 55) and shot 48.9 percent with 14 assists in the second half. Regardless of the result, it was a good night for Caruso’s on-off differential; he was +19 in 11 minutes of the first half.
5. The Hawks actually led by eight points midway through the fourth quarter, and things seemed to be falling apart for the Bulls. AJ Griffin, the hero of the Hawks’ win over the buzzer earlier this month, hit three 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the quarter, Bogdan Bogdanović also warmed up from beyond the arc (10 points in the fourth), and the offense of the Bulls stopped, with DeRozan, LaVine and Vučević taking turns but failing to chain scores.
6. There were two pivotal moments down the stretch where the Bulls could have let this game slip away. But credit Billy Donovan for two decisions that stopped the bleeding on respective points.
First, the Bulls coach made the decision to take Vučević out of the game for two minutes after Dosunmu and DeRozan had to hold down their starting center as he yelled at a referee for a perceived foul. Vučević narrowly avoided a manager, and Donovan replaced him with Andre Drummond for a stint that allowed him to freshen up. In the roughly two minutes that Vučević was off the court, the Bulls cut a deficit from 100-92 to 100-98, thanks in part to a layup on the offensive glass by Drummond — one of his 11 rebounds in just 15 minutes while he was regaining his place in the rotation with Derrick Jones Jr. sidelined.
Then, with the Hawks up by two points, Donovan wisely used his coach’s challenge to overturn a three-shot foul by DeRozan on Young, which also would have put DeRozan out of the game. The turnaround was easy: Young landed cleanly on the shot before his feet accidentally got tied up with DeRozan after the play, but Donovan’s credit was holding on to his challenge at the time.
7. The Bulls continued to trade buckets with the Hawks, then won the game with a series of well-timed plays inside the final two minutes. Trailing 104-102, the Bulls stopped Dejounte Murray in isolation, then LaVine came back the other way and nailed a midrange jumper to take the lead. DeRozan forced Young to miss a step-back jumper on the next possession, then LaVine hit another jumper for a 108-106 lead with 44 seconds left.
Young came back the other way and lobbed it to Onyeka Okongwu for a bucket, then DeRozan hit a mid-range jumper, then Young immediately drove back for another lob to Okongwu, inexplicably beating the Bulls on the floor after a basket made to tie the game. with four seconds remaining.
8. That’s when Dosunmu, who had been slipping out of the rotation but gave up 34 minutes in this one, swooped in for the biggest play of his young NBA career.
As Dosunmu pointed out in his final interview, the Bulls’ last-second play was designed to get DeRozan to shoot. He did exactly that, but failed badly. And Dosunmu paid attention to his coaching staff by smashing the glass hard despite operating as the inside of the play, cornering DeRozan’s miss after he deflected out of the hands of John Collins. From there, he put it on edge at the last second and watched it find bottom:
“I knew before the play that I wanted to try to make an impact on the game,” Dosunmu said. “I knew DeMar was going to throw it away. Before we left the meeting, the coaching staff said to just crash. He wanted to try and make a winning play.”
9. In what has felt like something too rare, the Bulls made enough game-winners down the stretch to pull off a close game. The “Big Three” of DeRozan (10 points), LaVine (six) and Vučević (four) combined for 20 of the team’s 29 fourth-quarter points, and for the third straight game, all three scored 20-plus in the game. . . Patrick Williams had a strong pullback to spark the Bulls’ eight-point comeback midway through the period, confidently coming in on a midrange jumper with 1:49 left that kept the two-point game going.
With the result, the Bulls move to 4-11 in “clutch” games this season. And it’s made all the more significant by the fact that it comes on the heels of an embarrassing loss to the Timberwolves on Sunday, and reports of the team’s turmoil ahead of Tuesday’s win over the Heat.
As Donovan has called for all season, the Bulls are showing determination.
10 With Goran Dragić, Jones Jr. and Javonte Green sidelined due to injury, and Caruso leaving the match midway through, Dalen Terry saw some trash-free time go by during the bridge minutes between the end of the third and the start of the fourth. . He didn’t contribute much: a defensive rebound and a foul shot on Bogdanović. But it was interesting to watch him run, especially since he arrived early this morning from the G League Showcase in Las Vegas.
Next up for the Bulls: at the New York Knicks on Friday.