Bulls Insider

10 observations: Bulls close 4-2 homestand by beating 76ers

DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond lead balanced attack as team finishes December at 9-5

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls concluded their season-high, six-game homestand with a 4-2 mark following Saturday’s victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Here are 10 observations from the 105-92 victory:

---The Bulls concluded December with a 9-5 record. They began their recent improved play with the Nov. 30 home overtime victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. But this month has seen sustained improvements in ball movement, scoring balance and defense. January brings a tough test with 10 road games.

---As for that improved defense, the Bulls limited the 76ers to 39.1 percent shooting. They forced a 24-second shotclock violation in the fourth quarter that brought the bench to a standing ovation. About the only thing the Bulls didn’t do well defensively was finish possessions, allowing 20 second-chance points.

---For the second straight game, Andre Drummond sat with three fouls before halftime. Drummond, while continuing his elite rebounding by hitting double digits before halftime and finishing with 23, also strayed from his strengths and repeatedly put the ball on the floor. His live dribble situations led to three turnovers. It is the third straight first half in which Drummond grabbed double-digit rebounds. And the fact he has grabbed 20 or more rebounds in two of his three starts for the injured Nikola Vucevic is huge. Drummond joined Rudy Gobert as the only players this season to post multiple 20-rebound games. Drummond also added 15 points and three blocks.

Drummond's 64 rebounds over his last three games is the most over a three-game stretch by a Bull since Dennis Rodman grabbed the same in January 1998.

---Drummond’s foul trouble led to 11 first-half and 17 overall minutes for Terry Taylor, who played well with 3-for-3 shooting, six rebounds and two assists. He also ran the floor well in transition and set solid screens. Taylor is faring well as the backup center in small-ball lineups with Vucevic sidelined. Vucevic joined the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast and told broadcasters Mark Schanowski and Stacey King that he “can’t lie (and sitting out) has been pretty boring.”

As for Taylor, he said his opportunity "has been a blessing" and that he's just trying to make his teammates' jobs easier by doing "all the little stuff." He said his focus has been rebounding and trying to be a "good, switchable defender."

At 6 feet, 4 inches, Taylor said he's used to being undersized at center. At one point, he guarded 7 foot, 1 inch Mo Bamba.

"I got the heart and will to compete and go against anybody," Taylor said.

---Coby White posted his best shooting night since Dec. 21 against the Spurs. He finished 7-for-15 for 20 points, while adding eight rebounds. White only sank one of four 3-pointers, though, as his struggles from beyond the arc continued.

---All five starters reached double figures, topped by DeMar DeRozan’s 24 points. The Bulls shot 50.6 percent.

---The 76ers played without reigning most valuable player Joel Embiid, who has a sprained right ankle. The 76ers entered 2-4 in games played without Embiid, including a 2-1 record on this four-game trip that ended with Saturday’s game.

---The Bulls lead the NBA in fewest turnovers per game and have 10 games with nine or fewer. But they committed six in the opening quarter alone and finished with 17.

---As the first quarter concluded, the Pistons’ game against the Toronto ended with Detroit snapping their NBA-record 28-game losing streak. That means the Bulls are no longer the Pistons’ last victory, which came way back on Oct. 28.

---In his pregame remarks, Donovan said Zach LaVine could practice with the Bulls late next week. “If it continues to go like it’s going, I think that’s a very, very strong possibility,” Donovan said.

LaVine won’t travel on the Bulls’ two-game trip to Philadelphia and New York, staying in Chicago to work with the player development coaches, where he’s expected to be cleared for contact for the first time. If LaVine passes that test, expect him to practice with his teammates after they return from the Knicks’ game. “He has responded well,” Donovan said.

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