Zach LaVine’s strong hand, the Bulls’ dominant second-half win over the Sixers

Anyone could pull the points from the box and cross out the Bulls’ 126-112 win in Philadelphia upon realizing that Sixers star center Joel Embiid didn’t play.

Embiid is undefeated against the Bulls, so winning by 14 points instead of him would certainly have garnered a different kind of attention. But any dismissal of Chicago’s rare road victory against the 76ers — the Bulls’ first since 2017 — would ignore one of the team’s best performances this season.

The Bulls staged a 31-point turnaround, taking an 18-point lead and never trailing in the second half after trailing by as much as 13 points in the first half. The difference in the third quarter was a staggering nearly 40 points. Zach LaVine, with his sharp shooting, and Patrick Williams, with his most influential stint as a pro, combined for 35 of those points. Nikola Vucevic had the other five.

They were the stars of the night, and their individual efforts could not be ignored.

LaVine shines from long range

Lavigne’s hot hand will be remembered the most.

He scored a game-high 41 points on 14-of-19 shooting, making 11 of 13 three-pointers. He hit the first of eight doubles before his first error came late in the third quarter. Prior to that, he was 5-for-5 from long distance in the quarter. His 19 points in the period were the second-most by any quarter this season, trailing only his 20-point fourth quarter in Brooklyn on Halloween night.

But this was not far from one man’s control. It didn’t look like Lavigne’s night until the middle of the third quarter. What we won’t remember as much as his hot shot is how LaVine started the game spraying passes and working the ball around. He had five assists before halftime. His first-half scoring, 13 effective points on 5-of-6 shooting, ensured the flow of the team’s offense.

The accuracy of the LaVine lights also stood out for its point-and-shoot and photo opportunities. Seven of his three-pointers came without using the dribble. It’s a streamlined way Bulls coach Billy Donovan has worked to incorporate more into LaVine’s package. LaVine still loves the ball in his hands with the ability to create rather than just pick and shoot. But he has shown how effective he can be when he gets into a zone.

Vučević scores a treble

Vučević performed as one would expect against the Sixers’ much smaller and inferior backups – he dominated.

Vooch played a decisive role throughout, first by exploiting shorter defenders inside and cleaning the defensive glass, then with string passes. He scored 19 points along with 18 rebounds, 10 assists and two saves. It was his fifth career triple-double and his second as a member of the Bulls.

Before the end of the first half, Vucevic devoured 12 rebounds. Given the struggles of the Bulls who have recently shut down defensive possessions by securing rebounds, his commitment has been commendable. His passes in the second half were important.

Vucevic provided eight assists after the break. He switched from receiver in the first half to quarterback in the second, and repeatedly served as an emergency enforcer when the Sixers began fielding double teams at LaVine. Each time, Vučević delivered the simple but adequate pass to the next open player, easily picking off what was left of the Philly defense. His 10 helpers equals 25 ox points.

“I thought Vooch was the best player of the night,” LaVine told NBC Sports Chicago after the game.

Williams is getting older

Two nights ago, his teammates couldn’t stop harassing Williams.

Let’s be precise. DeMar DeRozan and LaVine No Stop.

Williams sat patiently in his locker as he answered a series of questions from a crowd of reporters following the Bulls’ win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. At every opportunity, DeRozan or LaVine would step in, criticizing Williams’ answers, through thick and thin.

“Tell them, Pat, ‘Belts.'”

Way to lead us, Rook, said DeRozan.

That caught Williams’ attention, causing him to pivot mid-sentence.

Williams responded to DeRozan: “I said ‘The Rook?'” “

DeRozan said it again.

“Stop playing, bro,” said Williams.

With consecutive, eye-catching performances, Williams seems to be forcing his teammates to put some respect to his name. That’s something the third-year forward said after he scored a season-high 22 points against Kevin Durant and the Predicted Nets on Friday.

“This match does not affect the next match,” Williams said on Wednesday. “Next game, you have to show it again. Prove it again.”

What a week it has been for Williams. It started with a missed shutout game in Cleveland on Monday. His humpback day was marked by the tough defensive job on Durant. Two nights later, it was his former teammate, James Harden. Twenty-four hours later, this season’s former Man on a Mission teammate Lauri Markkanen will be an All-Star in the pipeline and up for MVP award.

Williams keeps showing up for work.

He helped limit Harden to 17 points on 4-of-17 on Friday. Harden has seven rebounds, 11 assists and just one turnover. But he never found his comfort zone as a scorer. Once again, Williams had to focus on the most deadly option for the opponent while offering something of his own. Quietly, he’s growing really good at it.

Williams finished with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting with six rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes. He scored 16 of his points in the third quarter, making all seven goal attempts.

In two minutes, Williams showed glimpses of his two-way talent and how he can ensure his presence is felt. First, he intercepted Harden stepback 3 before dropping in for a transitional dunk off a pass exit from DeRozan. Later, he went down the lane for an assist block against Montrezl Harrell at one end before finishing a reliable dip at the other.

Williams made smart cuts, snapped two out of five, and handled the basketball (one turnover), all while tasked with slowing down one of the league’s most upset players.

He couldn’t have done better.

In less than 24 hours, he should do it again.

(Photo by Zac Lavigne: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)


(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Related posts