Bulls Insider

Nikola Vučević feels 'pretty good' in return to Bulls

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Bulls Insider

There aren't many silver linings when you lose to a team with a 15-game losing streak.

But here's one: Nikola Vučević felt strong enough to exceed his roughly 20-minute limit in his return to the Chicago Bulls after missing seven games following a positive test for COVID-19.

"I felt pretty good and obviously we were in a tough spot," Vučević said via Zoom from Houston following the Bulls' demoralizing defeat to the Rockets. "So I told (coach) Billy (Donovan) I can keep going."

Vučević finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds and four assists before fouling out with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left. He had somewhat surprisingly returned with 6:21 remaining and the Bulls trailing by10 points. In that final stint before drawing his sixth foul, Vučević sank a 3-pointer and assisted Zach LaVine on a basket to help the Bulls trim their deficit to three points.

"I felt kind of how I thought I would. I felt obviously a little out of rhythm and just like I still need time to get back to 100 percent," Vučević said. "But I felt I was able to impact the game and do some stuff to help the team."

Overall, Vučević logged 26:03.

"Hopefully it won't take too long before I get back to where I was," he said. "It's hard because I had to just lay around my house. I couldn't work out or do anything at all. You do that for 10 days and then you work out for three and you play, it's not easy. I just hope I can build on it."

 

Vučević's return prompted Donovan to revert to starting Javonte Green at power forward and bring Alex Caruso off the bench. Donovan acknowledged how the Bulls had been forced to play unconventional lineups during his absence and welcomed the passing and shooting ability of Vučević.

"Vooch’s strength is his skill," Donovan said. "For 7-feet, he’s got an incredible skill package."

Next up? Vučević's emotional return to Orlando, where he spent eight-and-a-half seasons and earned two All-Star berths before his trade to the Bulls.

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