Entering Monday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls were coming off a big win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Chicago was beaten up by the Golden State Warriors on Friday night. On Monday, the Bulls were looking for their second win in as many nights against the Lakers.
DeMar DeRozan had a sensational game in his first time visiting his hometown this season on Sunday. This homecoming trip for DeRozan is a little different. It's the first time DeMar has played back home without his dad in attendance. His father, Frank DeRozan, passed away in February of this year.
In addition to DeRozan returning home, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso returned to the Staples Center where both players played prior to their time in Chicago. An impressive outing from the former Lakers was needed in order to capture a victory.
A second win in Los Angeles on Monday would continue a strong start to the team's first significant road trip. Games against the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets are ahead for the Bulls, but taking two of the first three sets them up for a shot at a winning trip.
Early in the first half, the Bulls turned the ball over a few too many times, largely in part because of Tony Bradley. The big center was stripped on back-to-back possessions. However, he was bailed out by two missed three-pointers from two of LA's stars in Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis.
However, despite some early follies, the Bulls took control in the first quarter. DeRozan and Zach LaVine led the way for the Bulls with nine and eight points, respectively, in the opening 12 minutes. The Bulls were dynamite from beyond the arc, shooting 5-8 in comparison to LA's 3-13 line.
In the second quarter, Coby White made his season debut with 10:21 remaining in the frame. Through the first half, White didn't score in just four minutes of play, but the team is certainly happy to have him back and healthy.
The Bulls' lead shrunk thanks to a Lakers run. That said, when the Lakers drew close, Chicago pulled away. DeRozan and LaVine paced the team with 22 and 17 points, respectively, in the half. One night after combining for 64 points against the Clippers, the Bulls received 39 from their dynamic duo of stars. Entering the half, the Bulls led 57-48.
The third quarter featured more dominance from the Bulls. Chicago outscored their hosts 37-25 in the third quarter and extended their lead to 21 points.
DeRozan continued to cook his way through the Lakers. The lights of LA are not too bright for the Compton native, who had 36 points by the end of the third quarter. In addition, 21 points through three quarters for LaVine meant the USC and UCLA alums combined for greater than 60 points for the fourth time in this young season.
The Lakers found themselves in trouble when Anthony Davis was ejected for collecting two technical fouls. The Lakers were already without LeBron James, Trevor Ariza, and others, so losing Davis was something the Lakers needed to avoid.
Ten third-quarter points from Lonzo Ball kept the Bulls out front. The Lakers found a sense of life, but the Bulls kept their pedal on the metal, not allowing the Lakers to close the gap.
The Bulls held on in the fourth quarter and finished off the Lakers in dominating fashion. DeRozan led the way with 38 points. In addition, Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine added 27 and 26 points, respectively, to rout the Lakers by 18 points. Derrick Jones Jr. was also a pleasant surprise, scoring 13 points, grabbing three rebounds, and adding two assists. Although he found himself in foul trouble early, Jones Jr. was an important piece down low Monday night.
DeMar DeRozan was DeMarvelous on Monday night. Playing in his hometown, DeRozan dropped 38 points after scoring 35 against the Clippers. The 32-year-old forward is playing like an All-Star after being named one of the worst offseason signings prior to the season.
DeRozan cooked the Lakers all over the floor. After shooting 2-5 from three-point land, his 15-23 shooting was a huge difference on Monday and a major reason the Bulls won by 18 points.
It's early, but adding DeMar DeRozan to pair with Zach LaVine has paid off for the 2021-22 Bulls.
The Real Splash Bros?
After tying a season-high on Sunday with six three-pointers, Zach LaVine shot the exact same from beyond the arc on Monday, going 6-13 from three. In addition, Lonzo Ball shot lights out, dropping seven buckets from three-point range. The success shooting from distance helped three Bulls tally over 25 points in the win.
If the Bulls continue to shoot the way they have, there are few teams that will be able to slow them down this season. In Nikola Vucevic's absence, players such as DeRozan, Ball, and LaVine are picking up the slack.
Need for a Big Man
With Vucevic sidelined, the Bulls are struggling down low. Tony Bradley is average at best as a starter. Although he tallied six points and nine rebounds, Bradley is better suited as a depth player. If the Bulls are to do anything to improve their team midseason, adding a legitimate big man could be the difference between a deep playoff run and a championship run.
Who they should target remains to be seen. Who would you want to see? Which player do you think the Bulls should explore to strengthen their depth down low?
What's On Tap Next?
The 10-4 Bulls travel to Portland for a date with the 7-8 Trailblazers on Wednesday, November 17. In typical west coast fashion, the game is scheduled to begin at 9:00 PM CST.
Make sure to check out the Bulls On Tap podcast for further postgame reaction as well as Chicago basketball analysis and commentary all season.