Bulls Insider

10 observations: Jalen Brunson lifts Knicks past Bulls

Stevenson High product posts second straight 40-point game, fourth straight 30-point game

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The Chicago Bulls fell to the New York Knicks 128-117 on Tuesday night at the United Center as Jalen Brunson was spectacular with 45 points and eight assists.

Here are 10 observations:

---The Bulls have had lower moments this season. The listless loss to the Boston Celtics in November which both Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan left with injuries and dropped them to 5-14 comes to mind. But as far as individual sequences go, nothing can top the ridiculousness that occurred in the first minute of the second quarter.

Andre Drummond picked Bojan Bogdanovic clean up top, starting a 3-on-0 fast break. On it, Torrey Craig threw the ball off the backboard in an apparent alley-oop to himself. Thinking the pass was to reward him for his defensive effort, Drummond tried to dunk it, going over Craig’s back and sending him crashing to the floor. Both missed the dunk, which left Coby White, also on the fast break, throwing his hands up in frustration and infuriating Billy Donovan on the sideline.

Donovan immediately called timeout to address the play.

"We did some really dumb stuff---everybody, not just T Craig," Coby White said. "We're not going to single him out. We're a team."

Making the sequence even worse, Drummond then went to the other end and badly rolled his left ankle on Isaiah Hartenstein’s foot. Drummond writhed on the floor in pain, left immediately for the locker room in a wheelchair and didn’t return.

Afterward, Donovan said Drummond, who left the arena in a walking boot, has swelling in the ankle. As for Craig's decision, Donovan didn't hold back.

"To me it was just really disappointing," Donovan said. "I'm not going to get into what I said. But down by 10, there was a lot of self-induced things that I think we contributed to. Not only that play but other plays that maybe weren't as loud as that. But that play was disappointing to me.

"I don't care who he was throwing the ball to. We don't need to be doing that. I'm not going to get into everything I said on the bench. That's not what I'm about and it's not about what we should be about."

Craig took ownership.

"Just wanted to create some excitement, try to give us an edge and create some momentum for us," he said. "Obviously, I didn't know Drummond was going to jump out there with me. It was a miscommunication. At the end of the day, I just gotta lay the ball up. I'll take the blame on that."

---Craig then further irked Donovan by arguing a foul call late in the third quarter on Brunson and getting whistled for a technical foul.

Donovan isn't the type of coach to take punitive measures and bench players. He said he addressed the first play during the timeout but that Craig is a professional veteran and he doesn't hold grudges.

"It was a really loud play," Donovan said. "I think everybody saw that. But I'm not going to sit here and say we lost the game because of that play."

---The Bulls finished 20-21 at home. But even with the loss, the Bulls’ magic number dropped to two after Atlanta lost to Miami in double overtime.

---Ayo Dosunmu missed the game with a right quadriceps contusion suffered on Sunday in Orlando. Donovan said it worsened over the ensuing days and doesn’t yet know a timetable for the guard’s return.

---Coby White broke Zach LaVine’s single-season record for most 3-pointers in a season with his 205th in the final seconds of the first half.

"It's a blessing," White said.

---Donovan didn’t like the defensive start to either half at all. In the first half, he burned a timeout less than two minutes after tipoff when the Bulls suffered three breakdowns on the first four possessions. Brunson scored 15 points in the opening period and the Knicks had 68 points by halftime.

In the second half, Donovan called timeout at the 9:40 mark of the third as the Knicks raced to a 10-2 run to open a 14-point lead.

---With Dosunmu out, Jevon Carter logged rare first-quarter minutes and launched five 3-pointers in six minutes. Unfortunately, he only made one. Carter didn’t play on Sunday in Orlando despite Alex Caruso sitting out and has played very sparingly down the regular-season stretch. Carter didn't play again.

---The first half ended with a wild sequence of three 3-pointers in the final 6.3 seconds. After Nikola Vucevic sank a 3-pointer, White stole Brunson’s inbounds and sank a difficult, off-balance 3-pointer to break LaVine’s single-season franchise record. But then Donte DiVincenzo sank a 45-footer to beat the halftime buzzer.

---With Drummond injured, Adama Sanogo checked in for third-quarter minutes and a brief rest for Nikola Vucevic, who finished with 26 points, eight behind team leader DeRozan. If Drummond can’t return for next week’s play-in tournament, the Bulls’ undersized roster will be tested further.

---Brunson posted his fourth straight 30-point game and second straight 40-point game. Making it even more impressive is that first-team All-Defense member Alex Caruso drew Brunson as his primary assignment.

"He's very, very smart," Donovan said. "Not that I was around him very long, but I certainly had a summer with him [USA Basketball U-18 team] and I was always impressed with his competitiveness. He's a complete winner, high IQ and really knows how to play."

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