Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
The Chicago Bulls won their fourth straight game for the first time since February 2022 after they beat the San Antonio Spurs on the road Friday night.
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Here are 10 observations from the 121-112 victory:
---With 21 points and 16 rebounds, Nikola Vucevic posted his third double-double over the last four games. Vucevic has talked about having more opportunity because obviously one of the team’s primary scorers in Zach LaVine is out. He had a big third quarter with seven points. Vucevic joined Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis as the only players this season with at least three games of 20 points and 15 rebounds.
---Already without LaVine, the Bulls suffered a potentially significant blow when Alex Caruso stepped on Coby White’s foot and exited the game for good with a left ankle injury at the 10 minute, 42 second mark of the fourth quarter. Caruso slapped the floor in disgust after he landed and had to be helped to the locker room by the training staff. Caruso has missed time with and also played through a left toe strain. This is a new injury.
---Torrey Craig tied his career-high with five 3-pointers, including four in the fourth quarter alone. Craig scored a season-high 16 points and helped the Bulls finish 13-for-28 from 3-point range after a slow start.
---That the Spurs have lost 16 straight and it’s not even the longest losing streak in the NBA is wild with a capital W. The Detroit Pistons dropped their 19th straight game on Friday.
---Breaking: Victor Wembanyama is going to be good---really, really good. The Bulls’ first look at the French sensation confirmed the teenager has special skills that range from shotblocking to shooting to ballhandling. On one sequence, he tapped a defensive rebound to himself despite Nikola Vucevic holding inside possession, dribbled the length of the court and drew a foul on a driving layup attempt. Ridiculous.
Wembanyama, who had a double-double in the first half, finished with 21 points, season-high 20 rebounds and four blocks and altered several other shots.
---After winning three straight first quarters, the Bulls’ opening-period woes returned. The Bulls shot just 9-for-31 and managed 24 points in the first 12 minutes. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich broke out a zone at times, which White burned for one 3-pointer. But overall, the Bulls struggled to find any kind of consistent shooting.
---There was one bright spot to the first quarter. Rookie Julian Phillips played early again and threw down an impressive dunk. While the second-round pick remains raw and needs experience, he makes you notice he’s in the game every time.
---Not only did DeMar DeRozan miss nine of 10 first-half shots, he airballed two attempts. That’s something that doesn’t happen often. The 1-for-10 shooting matched the worst shooting half of his illustrious career.
DeRozan’s struggles for two more misses in the second half, making him 1-for-12 before he scored back-to-back baskets. But to DeRozan’s credit, he got to the free-throw line 10 times and also finished with 10 assists for the second time in three games.
DeRozan kept working the game and finished with 20 points despite shooting 7-for--24. He also added three steals.
---Patrick Williams threw down three first-half dunks and tried to dunk one other, drawing a foul. Williams attempting to dunk everything and playing aggressively is a good development for the Bulls. After having his six-game streak of double-figure scoring snapped on Wednesday versus the Charlotte Hornets, Williams started possibly a new streak with a season-high-tying 20 points.
---White sank two 3-pointers as part of a 12-0, third-quarter run that pushed the Bulls, who once trailed by 13, ahead for the first time since 5-4. The first of those 3-pointers extended White’s franchise record to 10 straight games with at least three 3-pointers. The second gave White another franchise record---the most 3-pointers over a 10-game stretch. White’s 46th 3-pointer in his last 10 games snapped Zach LaVine’s record of 45, which LaVine did on three separate 10-game occasions.
White scored a game-high 24 points and added six assists.