A brutal game on Sunday led the Chicago Bulls into Monday desperate for a win. Back-to-back losses at the hands of Milwaukee and Orlando highlighted the weekend for Chicago. However, despite the game getting way too close, the Bulls pulled out the 111-110 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in their building. The team is still shorthanded, but returns from Zach LaVine and Javonte Green sparked the Bulls in a big way.
The Set Up
Last time out, the Bulls were beaten by league-worst Orlando on the road Sunday night. Ultimately, the shorthanded Bulls slipped up and let the Magic snag a commanding 114-95 win in their own building. After the terrible showing in the Sunshine State, the Bulls desperately needed to rebound and capture a big win in Oklahoma City on Monday night.
Although Zach LaVine and Javonte Green returned to the lineup, DeMar DeRozan got the night off to rest after he effectively carried the team in LaVine's absence.
The Bulls began Monday's tilt by bringing back an element of their game that they sorely missed: transition. In the first quarter, Zach LaVine, Javonte Green, and others were instrumental in giving the Bulls an eight-point lead thanks to that transition game. In addition to the welcomed returns of Green and LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu took advantage of his starting opportunity on Monday by putting up 10 first quarter points.
The second quarter saw the Bulls continue their first quarter success, predominantly led by Morgan Park native Ayo Dosunmu's 16 points in the half. Talk about taking advantage of a start. Zach LaVine tallied 12 points in the half, along with three rebounds, five assists, and two steals. In addition, Javonte Green had two steals, helping add some much needed defensive presence in the Bulls' lineup. The Bulls led 58-48 at the break.
In the third period, the Bulls saw Tyler Cook leave the game with an injury. If Cook misses significant time, he'll become yet another contributor to the Bulls' success missing time with injury. It showed on Sunday more so than Monday, but the Bulls might be the most shorthanded team in the NBA.
Perhaps the highlight of the third quarter came as time expired. With the Bulls leading 89-75 and time expiring, Dosunmu let off a half court prayer. The shot found the back of the net off the backboard to give the Bulls a 92-78 lead and give Dosunmu 24 points on the evening at that point.
Despite the convincing lead entering the fourth, the Thunder made this one a game late. With under 10 seconds remaining, two Zach LaVine free throws put the Bulls up 110-107. The Bulls held on and capped off the 111-110 win in Oklahoma City. Nikola Vucevic, LaVine, and Dosunmu led the way for Chicago.
"The Baby Mid-Range Monster"
Ayo Dosnmu is effectively baby DeMar. Stacey King said it on the broadcast. Dosunmu pulled up from the mid-range and King called the rookie the "Baby Mid-Range Monster". Fans are watching a beautiful mentorship and friendship develop with Ayo Dosunmu and DeMar DeRozan.
DeRozan has taken Dosunmu under his wing and is grooming him to become an incredible player. In addition to that, Dosumu is proving to be the steal of the NBA Draft. As a second-round pick, the Morgan Park native is exceeding the expectations anyone had for him coming out of Illinois.
However, as we said, just call him the "Baby Mid-Range Monster" from now on.
Tonight's Big Three
Zach LaVine's return proves how much he has been missed. LaVine had 23 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and a block in his first game back. In addition, Nikola Vucevic led the way with 26 points and 15 rebounds. As for the rookie, Ayo Dosunmu dropped 24 points, hauled in five boards, and dished out eight assists. The rookie stepped up and became a staple in the Bulls' lineup after getting the start.
What's On Tap Next?
The Chicago Bulls return home on Wednesday to take on the Toronto Raptors. Tip-off at the United Center is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CST. Although the Bulls are shorthanded, returning home will certainly be beneficial for the team after this three-game road stretch.