The heat was on the Bulls.
The promise of a resurgent season seemed to go up in smoke with seven losses in the previous nine games, and now the second of a back-to-back Saturday against the defending Eastern Conference champion trailing 22-1 in the first seven minutes . Of the game. It was a time when one could begin to sweat in light of the bright demands of the season. Instead, the Bulls applied blocking – along with steals, offensive rebounds and dominance on fast blocks – and beat the Heat 102-97.
“All he does is take one, honestly,” insisted DeMar DeRozan, who played a crucial role down the stretch in keeping the Bulls from getting upset with 12 of his 23 points in the game. fourth quarter and the efficient game winning 18-footer with 21.9 seconds left. in the game. “One game at a time. This feeling we have now, you have to want it even more, and it’s going to be difficult Monday night to play against the same team again. We understood how we got ourselves into the hole and not do that again and feed ourselves with a match like today.
The victory was certainly an unexpected balm for the irritating and chapped season it seemed headed for as the Bulls cut their record to 5-9. That’s because of the way it was handled after the back-to-back losses to the Central Florida guys earlier in the week, the huge deficits and the disappointments at the close. It was like déjà vu all over again, as Yogi eloquently stated, with the Bulls zero for 11 starts Saturday, no field goals the first seven minutes and a timeout with 5:48 left in the first quarter and led 20-1.
“It’s 20-1; Nothing good happens when that happens,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan admitted.
So, Billy, what’s going on in this group?
“These guys know it’s 20-1; I can’t start games like that,” Donovan said. “I try to give them some time to talk…is listen, ‘We need to pick up our pace here.’ They speak, the discourse is constructive. There’s positivity in there like, “Come on, let’s go, we’re better than this.” » That kind of thing. There’s no finger pointing: “What are you doing?” ‘What are you doing?’ There is none of that. They’re all trying to lift each other up, saying, “Come on, here. »
“It’s great to talk, but we have to get out and do it,” Donovan said. “I’m glad we were able to get through this, but it’s definitely a tough way to go through this.”
Especially after everyone talked after Friday’s loss that it just couldn’t happen again. Until about 8pm later….
“The feeling that we all get when we look up and you see this, it’s really frustrating and embarrassing,” DeRozan said. “It’s up to us to do it. We just have to stop it. We just have to forget that we put ourselves in this situation over and over again and just go out and play. You take a few shots, but you don’t go in some sort of steamroller. Stay with it, one play at a time and don’t get caught up in missing shots, don’t get caught up in shots that drop the crowd; just one possession at a time.
And this time, the cliché worked.
The score still got to 24-3 Miami, but Nikola Vučević scored on a short jumper and Donovan started to replace him. After a poor outing on Friday, perhaps due to Alex Caruso becoming a starter, the reserves responded. Torrey Craig made a three, Ayo Dosunmu got a pair of free throws to pick up the pace, Andre Drummond missed a miss, an 11-0 lead for the Bulls back in NBA basketball.
“I give credit to our bench,” Donovan said. “I thought they did a really good job of getting us back down to 10 (early in the second quarter after the first ended 26-14). And this closing group did a good job. Zach (LaVine with great overall play) stepped in, DeMar hit a big shot, Caruso made a three (on an assist from LaVine for a 97-94 lead with 51.8 seconds left). They all contributed throughout the sequence and competed against each other, which was good to see.
It was an impressive outcome this time against a Miami show with seven straight wins and led by Jimmy Butler with 25 points and Bam Adebayo with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
But it was Caruso and LaVine who forced Butler into several misses in the final minute that won the game for the Bulls.
“Once he (LaVine) figured out he was aggressive, you saw them try to pick him up a little bit more defensively and from there he made the right plays finding guys, making the right plays games,” DeRozan said. “He made some big plays and without what he did offensively and defensively, we won’t get this one done.”
There were a lot of fingerprints on this one, especially DeRozan’s with what has become a less frequent game winner. But it was sweet this time, a tough 18-foot shot against a big defensive effort that gave the Bulls that 99-97 lead with 21.9 to play.
“I was trying to get Jimmy to come, but I knew he wasn’t going to give up on Zach,” DeRozan said. “So I was just taking my time to do my footwork so I could explode and make the shot. I knew it was going to be a tough competition. Just me trying to regain my balance after turning to shooting. It was good to see it unfold, get the reaction from the crowd and especially see how we started and then get back down the field, make saves and close out the game from there.
Butler had just made a tough corner three to tie the score at 97 with 42.7 seconds left after Caruso’s three gave the Bulls their first lead of the game. But with Miami trailing by two, LaVine came to help Butler when Kyle Lowry picked off Caruso on a screen. Butler’s three-point attempt to take the lead missed with 12.4 seconds remaining.
DeRozan caught the air ball and was fouled. And in an unusual free throw game for him. DeRozan made one of the two, his fourth missed free throw of the game for the career 84 percent shooter.
“Dude, trust me, my daughter is already insulting me,” DeRozan said. “I’m sure my son will insult me too.”
Coming out of the timeout with 10.9 seconds left and trailing 100-97, the Bulls called on Craig to defend Butler. Craig latched on to Butler, whose three was ruled missing, and to DeRozan on the rebound. And DeRozan’s free throws finally ended the Bulls’ three-game losing streak.
“It was a tough game, especially the way it started,” LaVine said. “It was just good to get a win. Afterwards, everyone was happy here, obviously. We played hard and played behind the last three or four games. So to finally be able to find one was good. Obviously, I don’t want to be (behind) 20-1. I found a way to win tonight, but obviously I won’t be able to maintain it (with the big deficits). We have the ability to come back into a match. It’s always difficult to finish, but today we managed it.
And given that the Bulls have been buffeted lately by trade wind rumors and speculation, this is likely just one of many small disruptions to come. At the end of the game, there was vomit on social media as LaVine walked towards the vomitorium towards the locker room. The interpretation was that LaVine ignored a request to stay for the postgame television interview on the court.
“Just a miscommunication with the PR team,” LaVine said when interviewed in the locker room. “We’re all fine; I’m not excited at all. I’m happy we won. We play these guys in a few days. You don’t want to just sit around and party. I’d rather celebrate in the locker room .
Still, there were enough conspiracy theories that it almost seemed time to ask Kyrie Irving to explain things.
Meanwhile, it was probably LaVine’s best overall game this season with 13 points on just 10 shots as Butler trailed LaVine everywhere. LaVine tied his season high with eight rebounds, added a team-leading six assists and made a team-high three steals with one block. Additionally, LaVine drew two defenders to allow Caruso to open his clutch three, and earlier in the fourth quarter, with Miami clinging to a three-point lead at 90-87, Butler s He rushed in an aerial ball that gave DeRozan a driving score.
“Jimmy is awesome,” LaVine said. “I always enjoyed playing against him; he hit some tough shots. I came back to him and tried to hit a few too; that’s the game. I was one for (three) in the first half; I’m just trying to do everything else. I knew how to create, rebound and try to find my opportunities in the third and fourth (two fourth three-point shots). Just try to do everything I can to help us get the win at this point.
Desperately needed as the November games unfold and deserved despite a terrible start with the Bulls 44-34 advantage in rebounds, 21-7 in fast break points, a big 16 of 45 threes and some nice contributions from Coby White with 14 points and four of 10 threes and Caruso with 11 points and two more threes to keep him at 50% from three for the season. Caruso is shooting a remarkable 61.5% overall with a few layups. More than half of his attempts were three-pointers.
Not unexpectedly, late in the first half, with the Bulls trailing 49-40 at halftime, the officials stopped the game to wipe up the blood flowing from Caruso’s arm. Blood, sweat and, especially the way it was going, tears in this one. And the other guys get burned for a change.
Do you have a question for Sam?
Submit your question to Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org
The content of this page has not been reviewed or approved by the Chicago Bulls. Any opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its basketball operations staff, parent company, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that come with being an NBA-accredited member of the media. .