The Bulls (27-39) traveled to Charlotte to square off against the Hornets (32-34) on Thursday having lost four in a row and 11 of their last 15. Chicago entered tonight four games out of the last spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. Meanwhile, the Hornets, who currently occupy the eighth seed, were looking to improve their overall playoff positioning.
The Bulls welcomed back All-Stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic who account for a combined 51.3 points per game. LaVine, who was out because of COVID-19 safety protocols, played for the first time since April 15th while Vucevic had missed the prior two contests with right abductor tightness. Troy Brown Jr. wasn’t as fortunate as his teammates, failing to participate for the ninth straight game due to an ankle injury.
Vucevic led the way for the Bulls with 29 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 50% from the field and 71.4% from downtown. Chicago had their way with the undersized Hornets, resulting in a 50-36 advantage in the paint and a 61-54 advantage on the boards. All five starters finished with double figures as the Bulls recorded 33 assists on 46 made field goals.
With tonight’s win, the Bulls are now 4-2 in their last six meetings with Charlotte, sweeping the season series against the Hornets for the first time since 2012 when they were known as the Bobcats.
The Bulls Look Reinvigorated
The visitors came out playing fast, starting the game on a 20-9 run. They also shared the ball effectively, knocking down 14 baskets on 11 assists. Patrick Williams was three of four from the field, scoring seven points as all five starters contributed to the stat sheet. The Bulls scored 34 points in the first quarter for the first time since April 22nd against these same Hornets and enjoyed a double-digit lead.
Three-Point Onslaught by Charlotte
With four minutes remaining in the second quarter, Chicago already had 51 points but Charlotte refused to go away, embarking on a three-point barrage. The Hornets finished the half shooting 54.5% from behind the arc, which accounted for 46 of their 53 points.
The Bulls dwindled to six thanks to a 20-11 run by Charlotte in the final two minutes. Still, Chicago went into the locker room after one of their best offensive halves of the year, up by a score of 59-53.
Vooch Takes Over
The Bulls continued their excellent ball movement, picking up right where they left off in the first half. On a night where LaVine was still getting his legs under him, Vucevic took control, recording his 43rd double-double of the year midway through the third quarter. Chicago went on a 10-2 run to end the frame, highlighted by a violent turn-the-clock-back dunk from Thaddeus Young, and enjoyed a 22-point lead heading into the fourth.
LaVine Gains Momentum
Down big, Charlotte didn’t provide much pushback, only getting as close as 16. Coach Donovan used the blowout as an opportunity to give LaVine some extra minutes to shake off the rust. He produced eight points in the quarter to bring his total to 13 for the game. The Bulls went on to win a laugher by the final of 120-99.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bulls (27-39) host the Celtics (35-31) on Friday night as fans return to the United Center for the first time this season. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM CT on ESPN, 670 The Score, and WRTO for Spanish speakers. As always, you can check out the latest Bulls content, articles, podcasts, and more at Bulls On Tap.