Each week, one of the Chicago Bulls is chosen as our featured “Player of the Week.” Along with that, there are two honorable mentions. Players are chosen based on the player’s past week of performance. Our Twitter followers are asked for their opinions, which are then taken into consideration for the choices made. Mike Dunleavy is the featured Bull for the week of Mar. 9-Mar. 16.
Four minutes and six seconds had gone by since the second quarter quarter began. Chandler Parsons had just received a bounce pass from Jeremy Lin to drive in a layup, but someone stood between him and an easy bucket, Mike Dunleavy. Parsons continued with the drive anyway. In the process, his elbow struck Dunleavy right in the eye, but Parsons was still too busy watching his shot to see if it would fall to realize what he had accidentally just done.
Meanwhile, Dunleavy was laying on the ground with his hand covering his right eye. His teammates soon huddled around him. Some offered to help him up, but once Dunleavy removed his hand from his face, he spotted blood. He got up and jogged over to the bench where assistant athletic trainer Jeff Tanaka met him with a towel for the blood streaming down Dunleavy’s face.
That wasn’t the end of his night, though. It was only just the beginning. With 10 stitches just above his right eye, Dunleavy came back to start the second half to lead the Bulls to a 111-87 victory over the Houston Rockets on Thursday. His layup resulted in the first points of the third quarter. It wasn’t until that layup Dunleavy scored, but it marked the beginning of his 18-point third quarter.
Right after that, he took a charge from James Harden. Clearly 10 stitches above his right eye weren’t going to stop him from fighting. Dunleavy set the tone with his third quarter-play, and without it, it’s likely Chicago may not have come away with a win as easily.
“(Dunleavy’s) a warrior, man,” Carlos Boozer said. “He’s a warrior. A lot of guys would have took that shot and called it a night. He came back and not only did he play, but he played phenomenal. He caught fire. The way he shot the ball in the second half gave us a huge cushion and we needed it.”
This performance from Dunleavy not only set up the win for Chicago, but he continued the momentum two days later. He put up 16 points, six rebounds and two assists in a 94-87 win over the Sacramento Kings. With this duo of games, Dunleavy had his first double-digit scoring streak since his last one ended on Mar. 3.
Getting stitches may not be something basketball players prefer to have, but perhaps Dunleavy should thank Parsons rather than forgive him after the success he’s had.
Check out Dunleavy’s highlights from the win over the Rockets below.
Jimmy Butler: Butler played a key role defensively in the Bulls’ wins over the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets last week. He stopped LeBron James from scoring on Miami’s last possession in regulation. The swingman from Marquette was also vital in limiting James Harden to eight points. Defense wasn’t the only area he thrived in, though. Butler posted a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds in the win over the Heat and averaged 13.75 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.25 steals for the week.
Joakim Noah: It’s no wonder that Bulls fans have started to give Noah MVP chants with the numbers he’s putting up. Last week, he nearly averaged a triple-double: 17.25 points, 10.25 rebounds, 7.75 assists, 1.25 steals and 2.75 blocks. While these numbers have become expected of Noah, it’s still impressive to see him remain consistent with them.