Three takeaways from the Chicago Bulls’ fourth straight victory

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: Robin Lopez
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: Robin Lopez /

The Chicago Bulls hosted the Utah Jazz at the United Center on Wednesday evening. The Bulls continued their non-tanking ways, winning their fourth consecutive game.

There would be no glorious Lauri Markkanen minutes for the Chicago Bulls tonight, a late scratch due to back spasms.

While that news may have turned some Bulls fans away from watching Wednesday night’s game, those who did tune in were treated to Nikola Mirotic deciding it was his world and we’re all just living in it.

Mirotic had a great game and we’ll get to that later, but for now bask in the conundrum of this four game win streak. The win streak itself is more wins than Chicago had before the streak started and the games have been legitimately entertaining.

Kris Dunn and David Nwaba have been a treat and Nwaba appears to be an impact player for this team. Nwaba’s immediately become one of my favorite players to watch on this team. He loves pushing the ball and creating transition opportunities, something the Bulls sorely need and lack in.

The team is tanking and this win streak moves them closer to other struggling teams in the standings. After a few gut-wrenching losses featuring a Bulls collapse or two, I’ll take this short term win streak.

Now, let’s get down to these takeaways.

The Chicago Bulls are downright awful in transition

Chicago played solid defense against Utah, limiting the Jazz to 98 points per 100 possessions and forcing the Jazz into 17 turnovers. You’d expect the Bulls to convert those turnovers into easy points, but that’s where you’d be wrong.

Per Cleaning the Glass, 77.8% of Chicago’s steals led to transition opportunities, but Chicago was below league average in turning those steals into points.

Stacy King brings the point up all the time during games of the Bulls players not spacing far enough away from one another when running down the court. There was a good example against the Jazz where Denzel Valentine and Dunn were on a two-on-one with Jonas Jerebko and both players stayed within five feet of each other.

This allowed Jerebko to guard both of them fairly effectively and as a result Chicago didn’t get an easy layup after the turnover. When your offense is this bad, you need all the easy points you can get.

The Bulls rank last in points added in transition, and points added in transition after steals per 100 possessions.

Kris Dunn… closer?

No Lauri Bird against the Jazz which meant the big shots down the stretch were going to somebody else. Despite Niko’s stellar performance, the ball didn’t end up in his hands in the last two minutes either.

Instead Kris Dunn shook off his poor shooting night and splashed two mid-range jumpers that would have made Daryl Morey shake his head in disgust. But on this night, those shots went in and Dunn kept the Jazz at bay.

Dunn was 4-for-16 when he rose up on the left baseline over Donovan Mitchell, and gave the Bulls a four point lead with 1:39 left in the game.

That jumper was after Dunn made a nice baseline drive and found Valentine cutting for a layup, which also put Chicago back up by four.

Then, with 22 seconds left, Dunn took the Robin Lopez screen and went left. He so dribble, between the legs dribble and another pull-up to extend the Bulls’ lead to four.

Not only did Dunn show there was ice in his veins, he wasn’t afraid to let the Chicago crowd know what he thought about Alec Burks.

Nikola Mirotic remains undefeated

Since Niko returned to the Bulls they are 4-0. I’m not saying he’s the reason Chicago finds themselves in the midst of this winning streak, but I’m not ruling it out. Wednesday night and more specifically the third quarter was a continuation of Mirotic’s hot play.

He scored 13 in the third quarter alone, including a personal 11-0 scoring run.

He was pulling up in transition for 3-point looks with confidence, pulling out dream shakes and being aggressive. The layup when he drove the baseline, lost control of the ball and then regained possession for an off-balance finger roll was pure comedy.

Mirotic finished with 29 points and 9 rebounds on 11-of-18 shooting and 3-for-5 from behind the arc. I’m glad Fred Hoiberg decided to immediately insert Mirotic into a large role because its led to him being more aggressive.

Here’s to hoping the hot streak continues.