NBA News

10 Observations: Bulls hold off Trail Blazers comeback for second straight win

The Bulls hosted the Portland Trail Blazers at home on Monday night. Here are 10 observations

NBC Universal, Inc.

Following a home win against the Wizards on St. Patrick's Day, the Bulls came back Monday at the United Center to host the Portland Trail Blazers. They won, 110, 107.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

--- Pregame, head coach Billy Donovan spoke at length about the jumps both Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu have made this season. He talked about the greatest jumps in development he's ever seen, mentioning Joakim Noah's jump at Florida as the "biggest jump" he ever saw. He also talked about Chris Paul's undivided dedication to detail and gaining "any advantage possible."

How close are White and Dosunmu to that level of competitiveness and drive?

“I love both of those guys’ mentality. Love it. They’re just both very, very driven and competitive and they both have a lot to learn. You feel confident that they’ll figure it out because of the drive.”

--- Damian Lillard was courtside tonight at the United Center. He played the first 11 seasons of his career with the Trail Blazers. He also shares an agent with DeRozan. He and DeRozan embraced after the game.

--- Back to the game, Alex Caruso was made available for tonight's game. Coby White is still out with the hip injury he recently suffered. Donovan rolled with Dosunmu, Alex Caruso, DeMar DeRozan, Torrey Craig and Nikola Vucevic for tonight's starting lineup.

--- DeRozan singlehandedly drew the Trail Blazers into the penalty free-throw mark in the first quarter. By the end of the first frame, the Trail Blazers had recorded eight fouls.

--- One thing Donovan preached about Dosunmu's development pregame was consistency. Dosunmu put up 34 points on Saturday against the Wizards --- a flash of his best playmaking. Donovan challenged Dosunmu to try and be successful consistently as a means to develop.

--- Challenge successful, for Dosunmu. He played an electric game on both sides of the floor. He poured in 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting, finding his way to the rim easily and shooting confidently on the outside. This game marked his second straight 20+ point game, his first time achieving that feat.

"He's trying to pride himself on being a guy that can come back and be consistent night in and night out," Donovan said of Dosunmu after the game. "It's not always going to be through scoring. And whether it's defense, getting downhill, generating shots. I thought he responded really well. I thought he played a really sound game all the way through."

--- One thing you'd like to do as a coach --- in games against teams like the Trail Blazers --- is rest your starters. Donovan admitted pregame that players like White and DeRozan play too many minutes. Getting the job done early against a lower-level team gives a team the luxury to rest their starters.

Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers hung on. They tied up the game, 100-100, in the fourth quarter after the Bulls --- at one point --- built a 16-point lead. That forced the Bulls to play their starters late. DeRozan played 40 minutes tonight, proving his value to remain on the floor through consistent, long minutes.

"I really try to take good care of myself," DeRozan said on his ability to stay healthy and play league-leading minutes. "I try to rest. I don't have any other hobbies that cause me to exert any energy. I try to take care of myself the best I can. And I just love hooping. No matter how many minutes it is I just love being out there."

--- The Blazers made it quite the game down the stretch. Caruso made one free throw to put the Bulls back on top. Vucevic nailed a turnaround shot with 9.3 seconds remaining to put the Bulls up by three points. DeRozan hit two free throws with 6.6 seconds to put the Bulls up three.

--- Simons rushed up the court with those six seconds to go. Caruso --- who had five fouls at this point --- slapped the ball out of Simons before he could shoot it. It was an incredibly daring play that required perfect timing, speed and precision. What motivated Caruso to make that risky play?

"Once he [Simons] didn't really break for the ball in the backcourt, I knew they were gonna run some type of play where they threw it to somebody to try and get him on the run and hit him again. Once they did that, I just tried to kind of shadow him. Up three, with that much time left, you look to foul across half. I didn't like the look to foul because he was square to the basket and he was looking like he was going to shoot.

"And then instincts just took over. Once I saw he was shooting it, that's a pretty routine play for me to strip a guy as long as I'm within the right distance. Instincts kind of just took over."

--- Inury note: Andre Drummond took a hit to the face late in the game that injured his tooth. Donovan said postgame Drummond will need some kind of work on his tooth, whether it be pulled or fixed in some fashion. Drummond didn't speak postgame, but he did seem upbeat, joking "I'm not pretty anymore" in the locker room.

That's back-to-back home wins for the Bulls. They have a quick Thursday trip to Houston before they get three more straight home games. The Bulls should cherish these upcoming home games, as four of their last five of the season are on the road. They won't have three straight home games again this season.

Click here to follow the Bulls Talk Podcast.

Contact Us