Bulls Insider

Bulls' scoring balance, ball movement making believers

Team improves to 7-3 with victory over Lakers and insists this new-look offense is here to stay

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Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

This is getting serious for the Chicago Bulls.

A don’t-blink victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in which the Bulls shot 54.5 percent, placed eight scorers in double figures and sank a season-high-tying 18 3-pointers is no joke.

“That’s how we gotta play---not be predictable,” DeMar DeRozan said.

“This is how we need to play,” coach Billy Donovan said.

Even the postgame comments are in sync.

“We’re all super unselfish guys. I feel like the ball is moving at a high rate,” Coby White said. “The main thing we’ve been doing these last however many games is just playing a lot faster. Even on made baskets, we’re getting the ball out quick and trying to get up the floor, making us hard to guard so we can play less in the halfcourt.

“The coaching staff has been---really since the beginning of the year---just trying to get us to keep playing fast. And now we’re starting to play faster and faster each game.”

That’s not to say the Bulls are hunting fast-break points, although they posted 18 of those, as well as scoring 23 points off Lakers turnovers. It’s about getting the ball upcourt faster, sprinting into screens and actions, cutting, sharing the ball, making the extra pass.

“At the beginning of the season, we were getting a lot of the same shots and they weren’t falling. Now they’re starting to fall,” White said. “But I think playing faster has opened up a lot for us, getting transition 3s or not playing against a set defense or maybe they’re mismatched and we got a big on a small. Maybe Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) has a small on him and we hit him in the post and they have to rotate and that’s another way we can create 3s.”

The Bulls are now 7-3 over their last 10 games and the first and last games during that stretch featured eight players scoring in double figures. They’ve done that three times this season, tying a franchise record.

One of those games with eight players in double figures featured Zach LaVine, who has missed this 7-3 stretch with right foot inflammation that will keep him out weeks. If he returns healthy before he’s traded, the obvious question is can this style continue.

Donovan and DeMar DeRozan say yes.

“I think Zach can play any style,” Donovan said. “Because he can put it on the floor, he can shoot 3s and he can get to the rim. So for us, with him coming back in, I think he fits in to how we’re trying to play.

“Well you might say, ‘Why weren’t you playing that way in the beginning? Why does it look different?’ I think there have been some improvements that we’ve made of how we need to play. I think with what he was dealing with with his foot for a long period, I’m not so sure he was ever right. So when you look at his shooting or finishing numbers, some of it may have been due to what he was dealing with and trying to fight through. But if he comes back healthy, hopefully he’ll thrive a great deal in what we’re trying to do.”

DeRozan answered “for sure” when asked if the Bulls can continue to play this way---25 more assists on Wednesday---if and when LaVine returns.

“Zach is another threat that brings a whole different type of attention that you gotta pay attention to,” DeRozan said.

Until then, several other players are becoming consistent threats. Ayo Dosunmu sank four 3-pointers. Patrick Williams, Alex Caruso, Vucevic and White each sank three.

“It’s us having confidence in one another no matter who shoots the ball,” DeRozan said.

Donovan emphasized that there will be times when the Bulls need to slow the game. When DeRozan needs to work his midrange magic in isolation.

“But he also understands that he needs everybody,” Donovan said.

And so DeRozan finished with nine assists to go with his 27 points. DeRozan is now averaging 6.6 assists in the nine games he has played during this 7-3 stretch.

“DeMar is such a smart, cerebral player. But there are times he needs to get into the elbows and boxes and slow the game down for us at times,” Donovan said. “But stylistically, we have to play with the force and the pace. We don’t have to shoot it quick. But we have to go.”

After 19 games of running in mud, it feels like the Bulls are starting to go somewhere.

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