The Bulls take on the Hawks, 111-100, for their third straight win


Could this be the week when the Bulls finally shed that weakness and take to heart the words of Chicago Iceman Jerry Butler that only the strong survive? Be a man and take a stand? And might they actually find themselves on the brink of finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference?


With Monday’s 111-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks to move forward in the season series, the Bulls still in 10th place in the conference can overtake the Indiana Pacers with a win there on Tuesday. And then with games in Charlotte and Orlando wrapping up the week, the Bulls now at 22-24 can return over . 500 and tangle with the seventh-ranked Knicks who are just over . 500.

Well, well, we all know what happened this season against the record-setting teams. But now with three straight wins it seems the Bulls have finally found the chemistry to turn hope into success.

“This is the time of the season… rebounds,” Patrick Williams said with his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 10. “This applies to us as a team and to me as a player. Reinforce who you are and what you do for the team, how you play the way you play. So every game is the next big game for us and every week is the next big week for us.”

DeMar DeRozan received a standing ovation from the United Center crowd after being honored for reaching the 1,000th game played in his NBA career.

Perhaps the Bulls will finally do it with a six-player scoring in double digits led by DeMar DeRozan with 26 points and 20 for Zach LaVine, another huge rebounding game from Nikola Vučević with 14 points, 17 rebounds, seven team assists, and 15 tackles. Rebounds and 13 steals led to the Bulls’ 25 points (eight for the Falcons) in a relentless defensive effort.

“I stuck with it, I stayed with it. I was proud that we stopped when needed,” said DeRozan, who achieved another Hall of Fame career milestone as he played in his 1,000th NBA game.

And we thought DeRozan’s 1,000th was a fake-per-game.

There was no faking the Bulls this game the way they defended solidly led by Alex Caruso off the bench with three steals and a block. And with two more sets to go, Caruso is quietly up about 40 percent on threes for the season.

“We just kept grinding,” Caruso said. “It’s something we’ve talked about all this year. There will be games when the shots don’t come in, so we have to get back to our defense and our discipline and our principles. We gave up 21 points in the first quarter, and that’s what kept us in the game. We had a great second, a great fourth and came back in time late “.

The Bulls with 24 percent shooting in the first quarter and one nine-on-three looked like a team that recently traveled 4,000 miles for this game.

But what was the Hawks’ excuse for leading 21-17 by the end of the first quarter?

The Bulls exited their nine-hour flight from France late Friday, and sleep and a fresh croissant have been elusive ever since.

“Obviously it’s been a tough ride and we missed a lot of the shots we normally would,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said. “So it was one of those games that you have to keep working with.”

Alex Caruso finished with 12 points and three steals off the bench against Atlanta Monday night at the United Center.

Grind Away is an NBA acronym for, “Wow, do you stink, but so do the other guys.”

It was really the Bulls who made it work beyond their initial goal.

They went past screens and cut into the Hawks’ drive lanes, limiting that corner triple and opening up perimeter shots. They ran the Falcons to 10 of 33 on three. Trae Young appeared to be playing physical, and Young is one of six in the first half and six turnovers in the match. Atlanta, who are 24-24 and thus barely ahead of the Bulls, look like a team disjointed and ready for a turnaround. Young finished an impressive streak of 21 points and 13 assists, but seven of 16 shooting and little total impact as the Bulls continued to deflect his passes and slam his dribble.

“Alex did a really good job of pressing,” said Donovan. “There are a lot of things that affect the game (other than scoring), and Alex does all of those things. I thought Patrick was really good on the trophy, really important rebounds at the right time in crucial situations. And Alex defensively about disrupting him and keeping the group together and connected. Although A lot of the guys made a lot of winning plays.”

With a 40-point second quarter showing continued altruistic play on the offense, such as DeRozan giving up an emphatic fastbreak basket to run back into a late LaVine for a dunk and Vučević taking a pass from LaVine and giving up a line jumping foul for a paper cut basket to Carsu, the Bulls leapt forward 59-48 at halftime.

Young finally got a small lead in the third quarter with his akimbo limbs leading to free throws. That made the tie at 78 going into the fourth quarter when the Bulls took control of the game simply outpacing the Hawks. Derrick Jones Jr. He slammed a Coby White miss on a follow-up and to close an 11-3 run to start the Quarter, Williams ate a skip Vucević and returned it to a slashed Vuević for a knockdown and later saw mainly, Trae.

Zach LaVine finished with 20 points while Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and a career-high 17 rebounds in a win over Atlanta.

DeRozan closed out the game with some smooth jump shooting, with nine points in the quarter. To match the enigmatic Williams, who also scored five rebounds in the quarter.

Which brought Williams to the post-game media session where there was a lot to expect from the #4 draft pick overall for 2020 and a lot of youngsters to make it through. Williams always approaches questions and concerns with a confidence unusual for someone so young. Remember, it was about a month ago that Donovan talked about hiring Williams.

“I feel like Patrick has improved,” Donovan said. “He’s getting better. You can see the growth in him. You can see his growth and improvement over the course of the season. He’s a guy who should try to get us double rebounds. When he makes those efforts to get to the backboard, he’s one of the greatest elites. We want him to do that.”

That was the promise as well as the puzzling part of Williams because he looks so talented.

“One of the most versatile guys on this team,” said DeRozan. “Once he gets comfortable and realizes what he’s doing now, he’ll help us more.”

DeRozan jokingly confirmed that he would continue to tell Williams.

“I guess you all can’t see how nervous I am,” said DeRozan, laughing, with Williams sitting to his left as DeRozan addressed the media. “I really get on his nerves. Like, really get on his nerves. If he’s playing badly or not competing the way I know he can compete, that’s verbal abuse.”

There wasn’t much of it this time around, except perhaps in the Atlanta locker room where head coach Nate McMillan appears to be playing his final season, regulars like John Collins are in trade talks seemingly on a daily basis, and rumors persist of controversies regarding Young.

This is another reason why the bulls seem ready to finally run.

They have been healthy with Goran Dragic coming off Monday from illness. There don’t seem to be any serious problems or divisions with the team. And while there have been outside suggestions of personnel adjustments, most indications are that the team will likely remain substantively unchanged.

Maybe only in order?

You must take this position, be strong, hold on. The bull can, in fact, survive.

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect those of the Chicago Bulls, Basketball Operations Team, parent company, partners or sponsors. His sources are unknown to the Bulls and he has no special access to information other than the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA-certified member in the media.

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