Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
The Chicago Bulls defeated the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night on the road, finishing a back-to-back set of games with a 117-110 triumph.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Here are 10 observations:
---The Bulls have endured a tough schedule of late and are shorthanded with widespread injuries. Minutes are piling up for Coby White, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso. But the NBA is a no-excuse league and coach Billy Donovan downplayed the tough schedule before Tuesday's home loss to the Toronto Raptors, saying the Bulls still can make quick decisions and play with pace. Luckily for the Bulls, who pulled away in the fourth quarter, Coby White and Ayo Dosunmu were equal to the task. White finished with a season-high 35 points, one off his career-high, nine assists and seven rebounds and Dosunmu added 16 points and six assists and, more importantly, kept pushing the pace.
---For the second straight game, all five starters scored in double figures and the Bulls shot 51.7 percent with 27 assists. DeMar DeRozan only took 10 shots on a quiet night for him of 15 points.
---Andre Drummond provided some big second-half minutes to help the Bulls pull away. He almost joined Nikola Vucevic in double-double land despite playing just 15 minutes. Vucevic posted his 25th double-double of the season, which ranks 10th in the NBA.
---The Bulls' injury situation is deepening. Zach LaVine and Dalen Terry stayed behind in Chicago with their respective ankle injuries, although Donovan said on the recent three-game trip that LaVine's right foot issues have resurfaced as well. There's still no timetable for LaVine's return, and an update is expected later this week with LaVine expected to miss more time. Terry has a sprained right ankle suffered on Tuesday night against the Toronto Raptors. Patrick Williams remains out with fluid in his left foot but traveled to his hometown of Charlotte. The news isn't all bad, though: The Bulls upgraded Torrey Craig from out to doubtful before the game, continuing the momentum that has the veteran forward possibly on track to return Saturday at home. Craig hasn't played since Dec. 16 with a right plantar fascia injury.
---The Hornets weren't at full strength, either. Gordon Hayward, Mark Williams and LaMelo Ball sat out, while recently acquired Kyle Lowry isn't expected to report to the team in advance of another potential trade or buyout situation.
---The Bulls' absences altered Donovan's rotation. Terry Taylor made a first-quarter appearance. And all three of the Bulls' two-way players were active but didn't play.
---Two of the first three shots were air balls, one by each team. Seemed fitting for this sleepy January matchup against one poor and one middling team.
---Nikola Vucevic missed his first two 3-point attempts and finished 1-for-4 from beyond the arc. He entered the game shooting just 27 percent from 3-point range. As recently as the 2020-21 season, he shot over 50 percent for the Bulls.
"It’s not great; I know," Vucevic said in a sitdown interview in Los Angeles on the recent road trip. "There are some I have bad misses where I rush it. But lately I’ve been trying to get my legs under me, really try to take my time. The last couple games, I felt like every shot I took was going in.
"It annoys me a lot because I feel like I’m letting my team down. If I make some of those, it would help us a lot. The only thing I can do is continue to work on them and shoot the right shots. Eventually, it will come around. It would help us a lot and open up the floor even more for us. So I have to stick with it.
"My midrange and floater were off early on this season and those have come around. I feel really comfortable there. So as long my shot feels good, I’m OK and I believe eventually they’ll go in. I feel there’s been a game where it’s going to break open."
---White capped a 15-0 run that snapped the end of the second and beginning of the third quarter with an emphatic dunk in traffic off a drive. White played with energy all game and has talked in the past about how much he loves playing in Charlotte, which is roughly 3 hours, 30 minutes drive from his hometown of Goldsboro, N.C.
---The Hornets led by two at halftime because the Bulls picked up from where they left off with their turnover woes against the Raptors. Charlotte scored 15 points off turnovers in the first half alone. But White got fouled on a 3-point attempt and sank all three free throws with 0.6 seconds left in the first half and the Bulls took much better care of the ball in the second half. The Hornets only scored six points off turnovers in the second half.