The Bulls’ signature win over Nets proves season is no fluke
In the battle between the two top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Chicago Bulls came out on top over the Brooklyn Nets with a 111-107 victory. Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and the Bulls now have the number over Kevin Durant, James Harden, and the Nets. Chicago is now 2-0 against Brooklyn, winning a close one on Saturday after blowing the Nets out in their first meeting a month ago. The victory also put the Bulls at 16-8 on the season and just a half-game behind Brooklyn for the top spot in the East. Chicago also now clinches the season series over Brooklyn.
LaVine and DeRozan shined once again for the Bulls in their second encounter with the Nets. The two stars scored 60 points as a tandem and shot a combined 20-of-37 from the field. This signature win over Brooklyn further proves that Chicago is legit and should be seen as a serious threat in the East.
Just like in the first game, the Bulls outplayed the Nets in the fourth quarter. The first meeting saw Chicago blow the game open in the final canto, pouring down 42 points while holding Brooklyn to just 17 markers. On Saturday, it was a much closer 32-25 fourth quarter that nonetheless spelled the difference of the game.
This particular outing showed plenty of signs that Chicago is legit. For starters, they displayed great resolve against a top contender like the Nets. Each time Brooklyn made a run throughout the game, the Bulls managed to make a run of their own and keep the deficit within striking distance. It is always scary when a team with as much firepower as the Nets builds some momentum and establishes a double-digit lead. But every time the Nets looked to pull away, Chicago weathered the storm and forced their way back into the contest with timely scoring and solid defense.
Brooklyn’s biggest lead came in the third quarter when they build at 71-60 cushion, their largest on the evening. But in just a three-minute span, the Bulls closed the gap to as low as three as they entered the fourth period facing the same deficit. They went on a 13-4 run to begin the fourth quarter as DeRozan capped off the stretch with a jumper that gave them a 6-point cushion, their biggest of the evening.
Coming back from the double-digit deficit is a great indication that these Bulls will not just fold easily and give up when facing adversity. They stayed the course and did not panic when their shots were not falling early on.
Furthermore, the Bulls also showed their poise and ability to execute down the stretch. The game went back-and-forth in the fourth period and was still for the taking within the final minute of play. After Kevin Durant drained a huge triple to trip Chicago’s lead to two points with 39.7 seconds remaining, Lonzo Ball answered back with a 3-pointer of his own with 16.9 seconds left to finally put the game away.
Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan continued to show that they are one of the best tandems in the NBA. LaVine top-scored with 31 points and his consistent shooting throughout the night helped keep Chicago in the game. Meanwhile, DeRozan contributed when it counted the most. He led the way for Chicago in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. Playing against a top MVP candidate in Kevin Durant, DeRozan looked determined to show that he too warrants more love for MVP. The 4-time All-Star played huge down the stretch, scoring 13 of his 29 points in the final period.
The Bulls also did this largely without one of their best perimeter defenders in Alex Caruso. The 27-year old started but played just eight minutes as his hamstring issue flared up during the game. For a team to lose one of its best defensive players, other guys such as Derrick Jones Jr. and Ayo Dosunmu stepped up defensively and helped in allowing the Nets to shoot just 41.4 percent from the field and 8-of-25 from three. They particularly held James Harden to just 5-of-21 shooting on the night.
To top it off, they also won this game on the road, which shows this team is capable of winning marquee games away from home.
The Bulls had their fair share of naysayers prior to the start of the 2021-22 season. They didn’t believe this team could be as good as they have shown to start their campaign. And even with their strong start, there are still some fans out there who are not completely sold that this Chicago team could be a legitimate contender out in the East. But with two wins over the KD-led Nets, and one being on the road, it’s time to acknowledge the Bulls for the threat they truly are.