1 stud and 1 dud as overconfident Bulls get steamrolled by Rockets

Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, Nikola Vucevic, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

Entering Monday’s contest against the Houston Rockets, all the momentum appeared to be on the side of a Chicago Bulls squad on a three-game win streak. The Rockets had lost their last five games as well, and should have been little more than a footnote on Chicago’s path back to a .500 winning percentage.

That was not the case.

Instead, fans at the United Center were treated to a terrible 133-118 steamrolling at the hands of the Western Conference’s worst team. What this says for the Bulls long term is definitely concerning, and it’s frustrating knowing that it could have all been prevented if Chicago’s star performer had received a little more assistance in securing the win last night.

The Chicago Bulls supporting cast wasted an otherwise fantastic outing from DeMar DeRozan.

We are reaching that point where I can no longer remember the last time DeMar DeRozan had a bad game. In fact, the only two single-digit scoring performances he’s had this season came in double-digit wins against Charlotte and Toronto where he was able to hit the bench sooner than expected. He’d go on to have one of his best performances of the season as DeMar starred once again against the Rockets. Posting a phenomenal 31 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds on 11-for-18 shooting from the field, the Bulls lost last night in spite of DeRozan, not because of him.

Despite DeRozan’s excellence, the Chicago Bulls have now fallen to a 2-9 record in games where DeRozan scores 30 or more points. While this seems almost illogical at first glance, it’s far too often a result of DeMar’s teammates playing poorly, forcing him to take over to force a potential comeback. When his teammates do perform well, he’s able to take a backseat and worry more about creating better looks for the hot hand.

Bulls’ radio commentator Chuck Swirsky also points out DeRozan has continued compiling an extremely prolific career as an offensive threat. In the coming weeks, he’ll have the opportunity to pass several NBA legends including David Robinson, Bob Pettit, and Pau Gasol en route to reaching 21,000 career points.

Nikola Vucevic was a massive disappointment for the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

Whereas Chicago’s three-game win streak came on the backs of simultaneous solid performances from DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic, we saw last night how fast that can all fall apart when one cog in the machine isn’t performing up to par. Vucevic was particularly horrendous, scoring just 10 points on a horrid 4-for-13 shooting while reeling in just 3 rebounds. How it’s even possible for the 6-foot-10 Vucevic to be limited to 3 rebounds in 30 minutes of play time is beyond me.

Even worse than his offense, however, Vooch’s defense was seriously difficult to watch. He allowed Alperen Sengun to feast to the tune of 25 points and 11 rebounds. Considering the up-and-down season Sengun has had thus far, it’s straight-up embarrassing for Vucevic to get outplayed to such a significant degree by the sophomore talent.

In fact, the Bulls’ defense reached such a desperate situation last night that Billy Donovan began employing a switch-everything defense to counter-act Houston’s eclectic three-point shooting. This meant Vucevic was repeatedly pulled out of the paint to defend the perimeter, and the results went about as well as expected…

If the Bulls need Nikola Vucevic to play well just to scratch out wins, they are simply never going to win against anyone when he plays this poorly.

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