Bulls Insider

10 observations: Bulls rally to beat Cavaliers in double OT

DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Onuralp Bitim come up big down stretch

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls rallied from a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 132-123 in double overtime Wednesday night at the United Center.

The improbable victory helped to somewhat ease the sting of Tuesday's desultory loss at home to the nine-win Detroit Pistons.

"No disrespect to Detroit, but that's a game we should have," DeMar DeRozan said. "I know I was pissed off. I was up until 6 a.m. just pissed off about losing (Tuesday) night. I was eager to get back out there. Everybody showed it."

Here are 10 observations:

---DeRozan played 48 minutes, 35 seconds and was absolutely epic in the second overtime, scoring 11 of his 35 points. DeRozan also added 10 rebounds and five assists to help the Bulls avoid a season sweep by the Cavaliers for the second straight season. Four Bulls---DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Andre Drummond and Coby White---finished with double-doubles. It’s the first time that has happened since March 2003 when Donyell Marshall, Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford did so.

DeRozan scored the final three points of the first overtime and the first five of the second.

"He has the great ability to shift mentally and go to a different level of concentration and slow things down," coach Billy Donovan said. "He has an ability to stay incredibly calm and play poised in those situations."

---The Bulls added to their NBA lead in clutch minutes played, erasing a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to take the lead on a Vucevic 3-pointer that capped a 16-3 run. They’re now 19-15 in clutch games, defined by any game within five points and 5 minutes or less. DeRozan had a chance to win the game at the regulation buzzer but missed a jumper strongly contested by Max Strus. DeRozan made up for that miss by forcing the second overtime, pump faking Jarrett Allen into a foul and three free throws with 12.3 seconds left. DeRozan made all three and Donovan Mitchell missed at the overtime buzzer. The Bulls are now 6-3 in overtime and have played the most overtime games in the NBA. Ayo Dosunmu, with 21 points, sank two of his four 3-pointers late to help the Bulls immensely.

"Ayo was real vocal in the timeouts, saying stay with it and don't get frustrated," DeRozan said. "He kept us level-headed when we thought we weren't getting fouls and shots weren't going in. He was instrumental in leading."

---Coby White’s shooting struggles continued. He finished 5-for-20 overall and 2-for-13 from 3-point range, although one miss came on a deep, contested heave to beat the first-quarter buzzer. White had one other desperation shot to beat the shot clock that actually went in initially waved off. But it was restored following video review. White was 13-for-49 in his first three games following the All-Star break but is consistently refusing to use his heavy workload an excuse, saying he merely needs to make shots.

Not even an appearance from legendary college coach Roy Williams, White’s coach at North Carolina and Kirk Hinrich’s at Kansas, could help White. The last time Williams visited the United Center in 2019, White sank seven 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, setting a franchise record. White did at least surpass his previous single-season high for made 3-pointers, making his 164th in the first quarter.

And, staying consistent to a theme throughout this season, White didn't let his shooting woes affect his impact on the game. He played a leg-wearying 50 minutes and finished with 14 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, also blocking a Strus layup from behind in an effort play midway through the fourth.

---Alex Caruso missed his ninth game of the season, sitting after straining his right hamstring in Tuesday’s loss to the Pistons. Coach Billy Donovan said it’s too early to know a timeline for Caruso’s return. His absence is huge not only defensively but for depth purposes. If Caruso can’t play by Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Bulls won’t have Caruso, Patrick Williams or Torrey Craig to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. Yikes.

---With Caruso out, Donovan returned to start the double-big lineup of Vucevic and Andre Drummond. Donovan might’ve anyway---and did in Cleveland---to match up with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. For the second straight night, Vucevic and Drummond both posted double-doubles. Drummond posted his third 20-rebound game of the season with 26 rebounds. Vucevic fouled out in the final minutes of overtime with 24 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. He swore at the official in Serbian and repeatedly slammed a towel on the bench in frustration.

"You got two of the greatest rebounders in our league out there at the same time," DeRozan said. "The dynamic they bring rebounding at both ends, we can be very dominant with that. It gives us opportunities to get out in transition and get stops. It's big when they're out there."

---One night after posting historically bad numbers in Tuesday’s loss to the Pistons by connecting on just 2 of 29 3-pointers, the Bulls finished 13-for-37 from behind the arc. The Cavaliers made 22, another significant disadvantage.

---Donovan burned a timeout just 2 minutes, 39 seconds into this one. Not only did the Bulls get off to a slow start defensively, they had seven first-quarter turnovers before setting down with a strong second quarter.

---Those strong second-quarter minutes featured a solid stretch from Julian Phillips, who hadn’t played the last two games in favor of Terry Taylor, and Onuralp Bitim, who scored his first NBA points on a 3-pointer. One way to alleviate the current load on DeMar DeRozan and Coby White, particularly with the Bulls so shorthanded, would be to play the young kids and live with some mistakes. Donovan agreed to this theory in his pregame remarks.

Both returned for strong second-half minutes. Bitim finished with 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting and six rebounds. Phillips added seven points, five rebounds and two assists. Bitim even started both overtime sessions and played all 10 minutes of them, sinking two free throws with 34.7 seconds left in the second overtime.

"Where he has played and where he's from, he has played in a lot of big moments and a lot of big games and a lot of pressurized situations," Donovan said. "Obviously, I didn't know he was going to play like that. But besides the shots he made, the free throws were huge. He has worked really hard. I'm happy for him. For his first opportunity to go like that, it helped us immensely."

---In the second quarter, Jevon Carter passed up a wide-open layup after a backcut and feed from Vucevic, choosing instead to pass to White for a 3-pointer. White missed.

---The Bulls set a franchise record for rebounds in a half with 39 in the first half. Their 17 offensive rebounds in the first half marked their most since Dec. 23, 1997. They finished with an NBA-season-high 74 rebounds, including 25 offensive. They scored 32 second-chance points, getting their season-high on a Drummond tip slam in the second overtime. It’s the first time the Bulls finished with 70 or more rebounds since Nov. 5, 1975.

"They don't make rebounders like Dre anymore," DeRozan said. "You can't find me another Andre Drummond in the league. He's one of the unique ones who comes from the old school of rebounding."

Drummond smiled.

"The math is very simple. You got two guys who are very good at rebounding, one of them historically being the best to ever do it and the other is right behind me," Drummond said. "It makes it hard for teams. They gotta make a decision who they're going to try to box out, either me or (Vucevic). Pick your poison."

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