After falling in disappointing fashion to the Charlotte Hornets by a score of 127-126 in the season opener, the Bulls rebounded and won their first game of the year against the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, improving to 1-1 on the early season.
Chicago started this game with very poor play on both the offensive and defensive end. Their underwhelming performance through the first two quarters amounted to a 13-point deficit at the half. Zach LaVine was the only Bull who was able to deliver offensively, as he was the only double-digit scorer by halftime.
LaVine was a bucket-getter all night, and the Bulls relied heavily on his scoring ability to keep the game within reach.
Lauri Markkanen followed up his dominant performance of 35 points and 17 rebounds with a dud. Consistency is going to be a major key for the 22-year-old moving forward, as he finished the night with nine points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes.
With Chicago down 47-60 at halftime, they started the third quarter off with much more intensity and a greater sense of urgency. The defense tightened up and the offense began to flow more fluidly. Ultimately, this resulted in a quick 9-0 Bulls run. The Grizzlies would then respond, but Chicago kept the game close throughout the third.
More importantly, the third quarter is when rookie Coby White really started heating up. He scored 13 points in the frame and hit a Kobe Bryant-like three-point fadeaway shot to end the quarter, bringing the Bulls within two heading into the fourth.
Then, the Zach and Coby show commenced. That backcourt tandem was very impressive down the stretch of the game, as they were able to create buckets on possessions where Chicago looked clueless otherwise. The team continuously relied on the LaVine and White late in the game, and both accounted for two crunch time three-pointers to give the Bulls the lead with a few minutes left in the fourth.
This Bulls rose to the occasion when down three by going on an 8-0 run with 2:29 left in the game. Zach LaVine would finish the game with 37 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Meanwhile, Coby White outplayed his rookie-mate Ja Morant by scoring 25 points.
Zach LaVine rebounded from his lackluster performance on Wednesday as he continues to prove that he is an All-Star in this league. Even with a great performance from LaVine, the rookie out of North Carolina was the star of the night. White continues to showcase his scoring prowess along with his improving defense and exemplifying lack of fear in big-time moments. The 6-foot-5 combo guard played the entire fourth quarter and did not disappoint.
Also of note, Kris Dunn continues to accept his role and contribute effectively on the defensive end alongside Coby White off the bench. Dunn finished with six points, three steals, and two blocks. Wendell Carter Jr. and Tomas Satoransky also made some key plays on the defensive end that assisted the Bulls comeback effort.
All that being said, the Bulls starters played rather poorly. They will have to improve if they want to compete with the upper echelon of teams in the league, like the Toronto Raptors.
The Bulls will face off against the Raptors on Saturday in their home opener as they look to extend their win streak to two.
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