The Chicago Bulls acquired Lonzo Ball from the New Orleans Pelicans in a sign-and-trade deal at the very start of free agency. Although this wasn't necessarily a case of the Pelicans pushing Ball out or not wanting him, you can bet the Bulls' new point guard was excited to play against his old team. Ball's performance Friday night against the Pelicans was certainly fun to watch. Ball put up a casual 17 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds to post a triple-double as the Bulls came away with a 128-112 victory to start the season 2-0.
The Set Up
The Chicago Bulls started their 2021-22 season with a 94-88 victory against the Detroit Pistons. It was closer than it probably should have been, but the Bulls still got the win and they started their season 1-0 for the first time since 2016. Zach LaVine led the way in the season opener with 34 points. Nikola Vučević had 15 and 15, but couldn't shoot efficiently, and Ball and DeMar DeRozan were trying to find their groove. Meanwhile, the bench only produced 10 points as a unit, and Bulls fans were left with several questions leading up to Friday's home opener.
The Bulls dominated the Pelicans. Simply put, Chicago blew New Orleans out. The final score—128-112—doesn't even tell the whole story of how lopsided the game was. From the beginning, Chicago's offense was working. They had 28 in the first quarter and 37 in the second. With a 65-47 halftime lead, the game already felt put away. When you look at the box score, you will see a much more competitive second half, but it truly wasn't. Ball led the Bulls playing 35 minutes, and no other player played more than 32. I mean, Matt Thomas got playing time, and I cherished both of his minutes dearly.
Throughout the game, the Bulls ran in transition, they passed the ball, and they plain outworked New Orleans. The Pelicans got good performances from Brandon Ingram (26/8/8), Devonte' Graham (21/6/6), and Jonas Valančiūnas (18/8), but they simply had no answers for Chicago's offense.
Offensively, the Pelicans were incredibly efficient. They shot 48% from the floor and 52% from three. Not to be outdone, the Bulls shot 53% from the field and 50% from deep. It was an offensive-heavy game without much defensive presence, which may be a common theme at Bulls games this season.
Let's Hold Onto Zach, Please
Zach LaVine is in his contract year in Chicago which means Lakers fans are most likely already delusional and think LaVine is about to be a Laker. It also means the Bulls need to do whatever they can to keep him in Chicago. Right now, Zach LaVine is only 26 years old. His prime is still ahead of him, and he is balling out. Not only did he have a near-historic season last year, he is off to a red-hot start this season.
Yes, it's two games, but LaVine is averaging 33 PPG on 61.1% shooting, 50% shooting from three, and 93.8% from the free-throw line. Will he sustain these numbers? Probably. Even on the off chance he doesn't, LaVine is proving to be a legitimate superstar in the NBA. The Bulls need to throw him all of the money, and he should sign it. He wants to stay in Chicago; let's keep him here.
What's On Tap Next?
Next up, the Bulls host a conference rival they haven't seen in almost three days. That's right, the Detroit Pistons will be visiting Chicago Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. CDT. Detroit will be looking to interrupt LaVine's scoring, but that's fine by me for two reasons. 1) They won't be able to contain LaVine. 2) We have a plethora of other ways to beat teams now. Let's get after it, Bulls Nation. #CrackUm.
Check out the Bulls On Tap podcast for further postgame reaction as well as Chicago basketball analysis and commentary all season.