Observations: Bulls ride best quarter of season to blowout


The Bulls notched their second straight victory by defeating the Rockets 120-100 in Houston on Monday night.

The Rockets played without Victor Oladipo, DeMarcus Cousins and Christian Wood. It's their eighth straight loss.

Here are 14 observations:

1. Stephen Silas trotted out a starting five all 6-foot-6 or under with his team depleted: John Wall, Eric Gordon, Jae'Sean Tate, Danuel House Jr. and P.J. Tucker. In fact, Rodions Kurucs was the only active Rocket above 6-6..

2. The Bulls responded well to that fact early on, ripping a 20-2 run in the first quarter to turn an early 5-2 deficit into a 22-7 lead. The Rockets pushed back with a 17-7 run to end the first down just five, and trailed 54-48 at the half.

3. Coby White ripped out of the gates to the tune of a game-high 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting at the break (plus 7 rebounds). He exited to the locker room early in the third after taking a hard fall contesting a John Wall fastbreak layup -- and appearing to hit his head on the basket stanchion -- but returned to the game later in the period. He and Billy Donovan said after the game he left because of a cut on his lip, not to enter concussion protocol.

(White's evening ended with his third double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds. He caught a spark from deep in the fourth to finish 10-for-16 from the floor and 4-for-7 from 3. An electric performance.)


4. In the time White was out of the game in the third, the Bulls went on a hellacious 31-16 run, stretching a 58-51 lead to 89-67. That third quarter, in which the Bulls built as much as a 31-point lead, was about as torrid and efficient basketball as they've played all season. A few zoom-ins:

  • In outscoring the Rockets 46-26 in the third, the Bulls posted their highest scoring quarter of the season, shooting 19-for-25 (76%) from the field, 7-for-9 (77.8%) from 3 and slinging 10 assists.
  • Zach LaVine notched 14 points on sterling 5-of-5 shooting, 3-for-3 from 3, after scoring just 7 (with 5 assists) in the first half.
  • Thad Young added 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and myriad magical plays during the run.

5. Wendell Carter Jr.'s outing should be in the conversation for his best of the season -- and certainly his best in five games since returning from injury. He finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals, taking care of business against that downsized Rockets frontline.

6. Patrick Williams, too, enjoyed a strong night with 14 and 7 boards. This contest marked his 29th game of the season, equal to what he played last season at Florida State.

7. White, Carter and Williams carried the load in the first half before the floodgates opened. Often this season, the Bulls have relied on LaVine's heroics or the play of their veterans to pull away from opponents, so to see three non-LaVine members of the "young core" make meaningful impact was encouraging.

8. Those veterans still stuffed the stat sheet yet again, though. Young finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Tomáš Satoranský had 10 points and 4 dimes. Garrett Temple his 2 3s.

9. After a 1-for-7 night from 3, Denzel Valentine is now 2-for-20 from behind the arc in his last four games, though he did throw down a loud dunk.

10. The Bulls placed six players in double-figures and cleared 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3. Signs of a healthy offense.

11. Not sure you can call it a "revenge game," given the margin of defeat, but old pal David Nwaba matched a career-high with 22 points, amassing 9 rebounds and 2 steals to boot with his typical hyper-activity.

12. A stat Donovan will like: The Bulls committed just 12 turnovers in this one. They entered play averaging 13.1 turnovers per game in February -- 10th in the NBA and well below their season-long, 29th-ranked average of 16.1.

13. The Bulls also held the Rockets to sub-40 percent shooting and outrebounded them by nine. Feathers in the cap of a defense that's looked better of late...

14. ... and a comfortable victory to move to 14-16. These types of wins -- easy ones against on-paper inferior competition -- haven't been a given in recent seasons.

Next up: Back home for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

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