Player grades from Bulls bounceback win over Wizards

It’s time to celebrate, the losing streak has finally come to a close! Having lost their last three games and 8 of their last 11 leading up to Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards, the Chicago Bulls desperately needed to pull off a win and start building some positive momentum.

With Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura, and Delon Wright all sidelined, even Vegas believed the struggling Bulls to be heavy favorites leading up to the game. The win wouldn’t come that easily, however, as Chicago just barely eeked out a 115-111 victory after being down with as little as three minutes left in the game.

If we’re being honest, it shouldn’t have been that close against an undermanned Wizards team that isn’t even that good when fully healthy. That being said, beggars can’t be choosers, so I won’t complain about the Bulls finally picking up a win that can hopefully lead to bigger and better things.

Let’s review the starting lineup’s player grades after the Chicago Bulls picked up a crucial victory over their conference rival Washington Wizards.

ZACH LAVINE

25 PTS, 7 REB, 5 AST

C+

If you stopped watching this game halfway through the fourth quarter, I wouldn’t fault you for assigning Zach LaVine a terrible game grade. He couldn’t get anything to fall for most of the game, but any negativity over his performance disintegrated late in the fourth. He would go on to knock down three huge three-pointers on back-to-back-to-back possessions to finally put the Bulls ahead, before drawing the defense’s attention on the fourth trip down the court which ultimately led to a wide-open three from teammate Nikola Vucevic. LaVine’s late-game heroics are his saving grace here, but hopefully we can see some more consistency from him in the future.

DEMAR DEROZAN

27 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST

B

They don’t call him the King of the Fourth for nothing, do they? Similar to LaVine, DeMar DeRozan struggled to get much going through the first three quarters of last night’s action. DeRozan scored 15 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, a season-high for him as he provided the stabilizing presence this team desperately needed down the stretch.

NIKOLA VUCEVIC

25 PTS, 11 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK

A

This year, all I asked Santa for Christmas was a shred of consistency from Nikola Vucevic. If last night’s version of Vooch shows up more often, then it seems I may have gotten my wish after all. Vucevic was surprisingly dominant on both ends of the floor last night, scoring 25 points on a very efficient 10-for-16 from the field. Even better, his three-point shot was finally falling as he knocked down three of his five attempts from beyond the arc.

He also significantly hampered Washington’s efforts in the paint, with a pair of crucial blocks. Ideally, teams won’t score 60 points in the paint against Chicago every night, but that’s largely due to the fact Vooch was forced to defend the three-point line against a floor-stretching big like Kristaps Porzingis — a job he admirably completed, forcing Porzingis to shoot 0-for-6 from deep while Washington went 9-for-31 as a team.

PATRICK WILLIAMS

11 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST

C

Last night, Patrick Williams felt like a replacement-level role player. There’s just no other way to say it. His shooting was fine, he knocked down five of his eight shots. He played competent defense. He only committed one turnover and limited his mistakes as best he could. But still, all too often it feels like Williams is just out there doing cardio. We need to see more from him, but it seems he’ll never truly embrace that role while secured behind the safety blanket of DeRozan and LaVine on offense. Williams has yet to score 18 points or more in a game so far this season, so all we can do is hope his confidence grows to the point where he can actually become a dynamic game-changer.

ALEX CARUSO

5 PTS, 9 AST, 4 REB, 4 STL

A+

Despite the low scoring output, Alex Caruso was undoubtedly the star of the show for the Bulls, as he was the factor that ultimately tipped the scales in Chicago’s favor. Caruso drew flak for his performance in the last two games after being bumped into the starting lineup, as he only scored 2 points. He embraced that role last night, prioritizing affecting the game in every other way instead of forcing his offense.

Caruso was Chicago’s lead playmaker and posted a game-high +17 plus/minus. If he can continue to be a Draymond Green-esque presence as a starter for the Bulls, I wouldn’t be surprised if they start winning a few more of these close games.