LaVine, DeRozan's worst-case scenario comes true in Bulls win over Bucks

Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks
Chicago Bulls v Milwaukee Bucks / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

After suffering lower-body injuries, in their latest blowout loss to the Boston Celtics, Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan were held out of last night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks. With their bodies worn down and their egos even more bruised, the Chicago Bulls decided it was best to give their star duo a night off against a strong Bucks team that should have cruised to a win.

And I couldn't be any more happy they did.

Rather than rolling over and playing dead against Giannis Antetokounmpo and co., the Bulls actually rose to the occasion and put together their best performance as a team of the entire season. The defensive rotations looked solid, the coaching schemes were sound, and the Bulls finally made use of the youth and athleticism on this roster by getting out and pushing the ball in transition.

As a result, the Bulls would defy all odds and emerge victorious in a closely-contested 120-113 overtime battle. It would be Chicago's sixth win of the season, but perhaps the most important so far. Pitted against an experienced Bucks squad with a championship resume and a 13-5 record entering last night's game, this was no small feat.

The Bulls proved they might be better off without Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan in last night's win over Milwaukee.

Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls to victory, once again looking like the All-Star-caliber difference-maker he was in Orlando. Vucevic compiled an extremely balanced effort, finishing with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists while converting on 11 of his 21 field goal attempts. Although Vooch was excellent, what impressed me the most last night was actually the team effort from top to bottom.

By the time the clock hit zero seconds and Chicago earned a narrow 7-point win in extra time, eight Bulls players finished with double digits in the scoring column, while four players dished out five assists or more. The Bulls looked like an entirely different team out there, moving the ball around to create better looks, trusting each other on defensive switches, and even Billy Donovan's substitutions were well-timed and sensible now that LaVine and DeRozan weren't around to absorb heavy minutes and play their typically porous defense,

It's very promising to see Donovan demonstrate much more command over this roster without the stars around, especially if the rumors are true that he's going to be here in Chicago for the long haul. Last night we saw why the Bulls had one of the best defenses in the NBA last year when everyone buys in. Billy has a history of helping bad teams overperform, even if he hasn't always posted the best track record of getting stars across the finish line.

Fortunately for Donovan, he may just be permitted to work with a blank slate soon enough. Last night's win over the Bucks was utterly embarrasing for LaVine and DeRozan, and may have just been their worst-case scenario. Not only did Chicago look much better without the two around to dominate the ball with iso possessions — resulting in the Bulls dropping plenty of winnable games — but other contenders might shy away from trading for the All-Star duo if they are incapable of making their teammates better.

It's important to keep a level head here and not over-react to one game. But if we throw all logic and rationality out of the window, this is the exact type of game that could be a turning point for the Bulls this season. Even if they lose, this new-look up-tempo team is actually one worth watching.

Next. Next Article. LaVine leads NBA in hilariously embarrassing statistic. dark