Bulls Insider

10 observations: Bulls outlast Raptors but Zach LaVine suffers rolled ankle

Nikola Vučević stars as two-time All-Star guard doesn't finish game after initially returning from roll

Nikola Vučević posted a huge game in the Bulls' road victory over Toronto on Thursday.

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls used balanced scoring to outlast the Toronto Raptors 116-110 on the road Thursday night. Here are 10 observations:

---The Bulls appeared to avoid an injury scare when Zach LaVine returned from rolling his right ankle with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left in the third quarter. LaVine stepped on Jontay Porter’s foot on a drive with 10:39 left in the third and walked straight to the locker room, throwing a towel in frustration as he left.

--But LaVine checked out after a mere 2:20 stint in the fourth quarter and didn’t finish the game, leaving for good with 7:23 remaining. He finished with eight points on a season-low seven shots, committed four fouls. This continued LaVine’s trend in the seven games since his return from missing 17 games with right foot inflammation. LaVine has said he’s most focused on defense and setting up teammates. He attempted eight shots in two of his first six games back before Thursday and entered the Raptors game averaging just 11.8 shots in his first six games back.

---The Bulls posted a season-high 74 points in the paint as Nikola Vučević feasted on the Raptors’ smaller lineup with 24 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. The Bulls had brief stretch in the second quarter where they failed to fully recognize Vučević’s favorable matchups but otherwise did a good job finding him.

---Along those lines, the Bulls posted 30 assists and shot over 50 percent again, connecting at 52.7 percent. DeMar DeRozan (24 points, six assists) and Coby White (23 points, four assists) aided Vučević on the offensive end.

---Patrick Williams returned from missing two games with his lingering right ankle soreness that has led also to a sore heel. Donovan said following Tuesday’s practice in Chicago that there’s nothing structurally wrong with the ankle and that Williams tries to push through soreness more often than not but that Williams must be more forthcoming about the lingering situation moving forward.

---Williams came off the bench as coach Billy Donovan kept Alex Caruso in the starting lineup. Williams finished with 12 points in 23 minutes.

---The Raptors finished a back-to-back set of home games, having defeated Miami on Wednesday night after trading leading scorer Pascal Siakam to the Indiana Pacers. But this game marked the debut of Bruce Brown, who finished with 15 points in 25 minutes.

---Vučević posted 10 points, five rebounds and three assists in his first rotational turn as the Bulls took advantage of the Raptors’ smaller lineup to score 24 of their season-high 38 first-quarter points in the paint. The Bulls built a 14-point, first-quarter lead.

---The Raptors rallied in the second as the Bulls briefly stopped looking for Vučević and settling for jumpers after he checked in with 8 minutes, 14 seconds left in the half. But by halftime, they had rediscovered the formula that provided their first-quarter lead. They had 42 points in the paint by halftime, only three shy of their season average.

---Williams returned and so did Donovan’s 10-man rotation---kind of. Jevon Carter logged just three first-half minutes. Donovan typically prefers to use a nine-man rotation.

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