The Chicago Bulls started off their game against the Memphis Grizzlies slowly on Sunday, as they were down by as much as 23 points about midway through the 2nd quarter. The Bulls were able to cut the lead to 15 at the break, and that was only the beginning. Chicago played their best half of the season, outscoring Memphis 75-39 en route to a 21-point victory.
This was the second-best half of the season in the NBA according to point differential, only being outpaced by the Brooklyn Nets in their December 21st win against the Golden State Warriors.
The Chicago Bulls rode numerous factors in order to dominate this second half, but they were led by two usual suspects: stars Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Zach had another outstanding performance, scoring 36 points on 68% shooting as well as 9 assists. LaVine was dominant inside the arc, going 10-11. He was able to impose his will on Memphis on the offensive end, seemingly unstoppable at every level of the game.
In a dominant second half against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Chicago Bulls showed what makes them a dangerous dark horse come playoff time.
This continues a torrid stretch for LaVine, who is averaging 28.3 PPG on 55/43.6/88.4 shooting splits in 19 games since the All-star Break. Any questions about whether LaVine was worth his contract have been squashed as his play has been among the league’s best. Sunday’s win showed that Zach’s offensive play can translate to wins, and he is an excellent piece in the future of the Chicago Bulls.
DeMar DeRozan also played excellent basketball, scoring 31 and adding 5 boards and 7 assists. DeMar was able to get to the line at a high rate, making all 9 of his free throws. The Bulls will need DeRozan to continue getting to the line as the season comes to an end and the inevitable play-in arrives. DeRozan will also need to dominate in the midrange, as he did in this game.
Outside of the Bulls’ two stars, Chicago was able to pull out a win thanks to Coby White and a tremendous turnover differential. Coby White has been excellent for the Bulls recently, averaging 14 points and 5.3 assists in his last 11 games. White has done this while shooting 52.7% from the field and 47.5% from long range, which is tremendous for a 6th man. Coby has been a spark for the Bulls on this late-season stretch, and this has been in large part due to the development of his play.
White has not only been a shooter, but is showing off his hops in transition, and is seeing elevated assist numbers. Coby has been able to fill in as a backup point guard, able to facilitate the offense and provide his spark. Additionally, he has shown much more effort on the defensive end, which is huge as it limits his liability. The Bulls will need the 23-year-old to continue this play for the rest of the season if they want to make waves in the postseason.
The final piece that brought the Bulls the victory was their turnover differential. The Bulls turned the ball over just one time this game while forcing an incredible 18 Grizzlies turnovers. This led to 31 points off turnovers for the Chicago Bulls, including this steal and score.
Turnovers have been a big issue for the Bulls this season, and this game was a huge confidence boost. It showed that Chicago can take care of the ball, and this can translate to big wins against elite teams.
The Bulls showed what they need to win games in the postseason, and they were also able to show how dangerous they really are if they get their act together. Now, with just 4 games to go in the season, Chicago finds themselves in the 10th seed just 1 game behind the Hawks and Raptors, who are 8 and 9, respectively. The Bulls play Atlanta at the United Center on Tuesday, in what will be the most crucial game of the season so far. If the Bulls are able to finish strong this season and get the 8th seed, it will be huge for their chances to get into the first round of the NBA Playoffs.