After being Nationally embarrassed by the Golden State Warriors, the Chicago Bulls looked to lock down defensively Wednesday night.
The 5-1 Denver Nuggets came into the United Center expecting to light up the Bulls like the Warriors did. This fantastic game went into overtime and ended with a Paul Millsap put back game winner.
The Bulls had so many positives to take from this game. First and foremost, the defense was huge tonight. They defended so well I felt like Tom Thibodeau was coaching back in 2011.
It was an incredible effort. The Bulls only switched on pick and rolls when it was necessary, they had active hands effecting the passing lanes, and turnovers actually led to points.
The Bulls held the Nuggets to 98 points in regulation. The Warriors had 92 at the half. So, you can see the difference.
With that being said, the Nuggets still pulled off the dub. Great teams find a way to win even when they’re being outplayed. Jokic seemed to be held in check all game by Wendell Carter and still managed to put up 22 points 12 rebounds and 9 assists. A near triple double.
The Nuggets are a young and experienced team that are primed for the playoffs. Tonight, they improved their record to 6-1.
The Bulls are just a young team.
With two rookies who are making a bigger impact than we expected this early. Chandler Hutchison and Wendell Carter played big roles tonight. With defense locking in on Zach LaVine, who finished with 28 points, the lottery pick knew he had to play a bigger role.
Tonight it looked like Wendell left his Duke days in the past. The days of him playing very passive and not looking to score. Right from the start, the Bulls were constantly feeding him in the post and he was actually looking to score. He used his NBA ready body and went to work, taking 10 shots in the first quarter and finishing with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Al Horford numbers.
So the Golden State massacre had some positives.
Chandler Hutchison looks like a valuable role player. With his play tonight it will be interesting to see how Hoiberg handles the return of Denzel Valentine with the stellar play of Hutchison and Blakeney.
He played his role and defended well down the stretch. I can honestly say at this moment, I believe the two rookies are the best defenders on the roster. Hutchison finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds.
Hoiberg had this to say about the rookies. “I love how Wendell is growing and it’s fun to see him getting better. The other guy who I thought was really good tonight was Chandler. He was out there really battling, rebounding, attacking the basket, stepping up hitting a 3. Our 2 young guys are getting better.”
Down the stretch the Bulls were up six points and were constantly feeding LaVine who compiled clutch play after clutch play.
He is definitely this teams closer.
But, you cannot rely on one player for five consecutive minutes. There was no execution, it was all hand LaVine the ball and clear out. I want to see Hoiberg get more creative in those situations to give the offense a flow.
The Bulls are improving, but they need to start translating these improvements into wins.
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