Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
The Chicago Bulls improved to 4-6 with Sunday’s home victory over the Detroit Pistons at the United Center, avenging a road loss last month.
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Here are 10 observations from the victory:
---The Bulls absorbed a blow pregame when Alex Caruso sat with a left toe strain. Caruso suffered the injury, which isn’t believed to be serious, during Thursday’s practice. Caruso has been the team’s most impactful player by a considerable margin; the net rating is 13.3 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than off.
---The Bulls started slowly again. They missed their first eight shots, took 3 minutes, 23 seconds to score on a DeMar DeRozan driving layup and generally looked flat. This is a poor response for a team coming off three off days and facing a young, rebuilding Pistons team that beat them last month. Donovan already has changed the starting lineup once. It's unlikely he does so again unless Caruso enters it. It’s on the starters, particularly, DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic to come out with more urgency.
---Caruso’s absence obviously upended the rotation. Ayo Dosunmu logged first-quarter minutes for the first time this season. But the reserves did what they’ve done several times with Caruso; they changed the energy of the game. Andre Drummond had four points and six rebounds in his first rotational turn (and finished with a double-double in 15 minutes). And Dosunmu supplied excellent defense and push-the-pace offensive energy throughout a game-changing, 20-2 run in the second quarter.
---The Bulls prioritized improving offensive rebounding, but in the early stages of this season, it has come at a cost to their defensive rebounding. They entered 28th in that department and, even though the Pistons played without athletic center Jalen Duren, struggled in the early going to limit second-chance opportunities. Duren, who sat with an ankle injury, killed the Bulls in Detroit with 26 points, 15 rebounds and five assists. But Donovan said the Bulls need to consistently fill in holes created by defensive rotations and chase long rebounds off 3-pointers better no matter the opposing personnel.
---What the Bulls have done well consistently all season---and did so again on Sunday---is score points off turnovers. They entered second in the NBA with 21.4 points per game off turnovers and had 19 by halftime. Dosunmu converted one possession with a nifty alley-oop lob to LaVine for a transition dunk. They finished with 25 points scored off turnovers.
--Coby White continued his strong season with 16 points and seven assists. Making the performance even more impressive was that White started off cold from the field. But it didn’t impact his defense and, eventually, that energy transferred to the offensive end. White fouled out in the final minute.
---Patrick Williams continues to endure a nightmarish shooting start to his season. He missed both his field-goal attempts, including one from 3-point range. He’s now 7-for-31 from beyond the arc this season. To his credit, Williams attacked the rim, getting to the line six times. That included two off a steal and transition attempt.
---DeRozan finished with a game-high 29 points and victimized Kevin Knox III with one of his patented pump-fake and ripthrough moves early in the fourth quarter. DeRozan sank the free throw for a traditional three-point play and five-point lead at the time. He also tied his career-high with four blocks.
---Dosunmu finished a game-high plus-19. He also played double the minutes of Jevon Carter.
---The Bulls continue taking care of the ball, finishing with just seven turnovers. It has been a strong suit all season.